May, 2005

In the last seven days I have critiqued approximately 65,000 words. I have written 0. I’ve also read no published writing. Something’s really broken here. I guess I’m going to have to try my hand at bringing balance to the force or something. Critiquing is really useful (as much or more to me as it is to others, at least at this stage of my writing) but it’s not an end to itself, and it doesn’t get anything written. And as much as I’ve critiqued, I’ve turned down reading and commenting on things that I wanted to and would have enjoyed going over because I had so much already. I’m going to have to put more effort into saying “No”. My Critters ratio is a ridiculous 300% (you only need 75% to be in good standing), and before I started this post I told myself I would do two more crits today. I’ve changed my mind though, after tallying my crit word count for the week. Some of that was my crits for the local flesh and blood writing group, of course, but it’s still plenty for one week. I haven’t even submitted anything into the Critters queue to be critiqued (yet). I’m thinking of putting in “Hindsight”. Be nice to get “Hindsight” into good enough shape to send out places.

Oh, and here’s a first ever for this blog, a quiz thingymabob! I’m usually not the quiz sort. I swiped this from my WUTA friend John Newmark’s blog, and now, regrettably, will be unable to lay claim to the distinction of never having posted a quiz to my blog. At least I’m still avoiding that meme thing, though I understand Tangential Cold‘s trying to pass one on to me. Alas, corrupting influences surround me.

Your English Skills:

Grammar: 100%
Vocabulary: 100%
Punctuation: 80%
Spelling: 80%

The amusing nugget of insight about the quiz is that I’ve always told people I’m the Queen of Spelling. Turns out I’m just the Duchess of Spelling, but the Queen of Vocabulary. Also, lest we forget, I rule the land of Meen, where I dispense justice by turning people who annoy me into floating eyeballs with no mouth and am ever addressed as “Sweet as Pie”. But that’s another story!

Back to wild conjecture about the meaning of a superficial quiz with far too few questions to really determine my English language lineage. I was recently having a conversation with my husband about my vocabulary. Truthfully, it’s never been outside the normal bell curve for my peers (I didn’t get any sort of standardized testing perfect score or anything) but as a youngster I deliberately cultivated and expanded my usage of words in every day language, out of devotion to the concept of “le mot juste” which I thought was a Poe thing and not a Flaubert thing as well as a speech thing instead of a writing thing (weird how wires get crossed like that, isn’t it?). So, anyway, I worked hard to always have the right word available to me. Sadly, I’ve lost the use of most of those words. My daily speech is crippled, and I no longer have access to the breadth of words I formerly used in conversations quite naturally. What happened? Well, at one point, I downgraded my speech — on purpose and with effort. I self-censored. The reason I did this was because I was consistently accused of trying to talk over people’s heads or trying to make people feel stupid. I never was, but I was mortified by the repeated and unkind suggestion that I was being a snob. I kind of wish I’d had more of a backbone and told people to get themselves a dictionary and that their limitations were not my problem, but it looks like the considerate, try-to-fit-in me won that little spat. I have no reason to speak so simplistically anymore and continue to do so merely because I’ve habituated myself to it. I Harrison Bergeroned myself, and now I think I have to somehow relearn to write the big words. Because, you know, sometimes they’re just exactly the right ones.

Of course I’d be doing good to write any words right now: small medium or large.

P.S. John, I have another religious blog recommendation for you, if you’ve never seen it. It’s Velveteen Rabbi. She’s not on my regular reading list, because a lot of what she talks about is esoteric to me, but she’s very wise and insightful, and I do like to check on her periodically.

P.P.S. All the rest of you, slacktivist did it again. Did you read his excellent Car Fish post?

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BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Harvard to boost women scientists

Hmmmm, for some reason this article isn’t titled “Summers eats crow”. Ah well, at least there’s money going in a direction it probably needs to be going in.

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Was a time when I’d be linking Neil Gaiman‘s fascinating blog every other week. I got so self-conscious about constantly linking that I once declared I’d just make my website a redirect to his. He’s writing less frequently, I think, and I find less that I want to quote or link to these days (though I’m still a faithful reader). But slacktivist is knocking my socks off, blowing me away, ruling my world and whatever other expression you care to add that colors me suitably impressed.

Last week he wrote an incisive post about the false persecution complex some American Christians currently indulge in. I’d have linked it sooner, but I’m still sort of digesting it, and haven’t yet formulated any kind of response past resounding agreement.

Today he did it again, with his timely, cogent post about that pastor down in North Carolina who apparently confused his Baptist church with a Roman Catholic parish and tried excommunicating members of his congregation. The ludicrousness of this whole maneuver is probably not clear to people who don’t know a lot about Baptist doctrine and theology, but slacktivist does an excellent job of explaining the jaw dropping cognitive dissonance required by the perpetrators of this nasty attempt at exclusion with a concise FAQ as part of his post. I quote the most relevant bits :

“Q: You keep talking about this “soul liberty” as the essence of what it means to be a Baptist. But isn’t the essence of the Baptist tradition, you know, baptism?

A: What sets Baptists apart is not that they are baptized — all Christians practice baptism in one form or another. Nor is it the form of baptism (we prefer old-school, take-me-to-the-river-style immersion, but it’s not an article of faith). The distinct thing is that Baptists choose baptism, and thus are only baptized when they’re old enough to make that choice on their own. The significance of this is that it means that membership in the church is a matter of individual choice — soul liberty again. This also has political significance as an expression of individual freedom and the separation of church and state. This political aspect was a rather big deal a few centuries back. The separation of church and state is the one and only contribution Baptists have made to Christian political thought — but it’s a pretty good contribution.

Q: If “soul liberty” is the essence of what it means to be Baptist, then how do you explain the Southern Baptist Convention?

A: The Southern Baptist Convention is none of the above. For the past 20 years or so it has been evolving from a convention into a denomination. They have, in function if not in name, bishops and archbishops. They have inquisitors. Eventually, and sooner rather than later, they will have their own pope. They regard the separation of church and state as a “myth.” They don’t allow disagreement. They strictly enforce adherence to creed-ish “statements of faith.” In short, they’re about as Baptist as Cotton Mather.” *

Amen! Sing it, brother.

* Information on Cotton Mather can be acquired here and here.

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Thanks a million to my friend Legomancer, who left a comment alerting me to the new teaser trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’ve now watched it more times than I’ve watched the Serenity trailer. It’s spine-tinglingly beautiful (I don’t know if those are naiads or mermaids rising up before Cair Paravel but wow). I’m not convinced Jadis is quite right (she’s got some seriously weird contact lenses, and the whole point is that Jadis pretends to be human…though she may end up being fine, it’s hard to tell), but other than that it’s perfect. I pulled it up with Sophia, and asked her if she wanted to watch a movie with me on my computer. Sure, she said. So it starts up and she’s miss twenty questions : “Who is that? Where are they going? What is that? Where are they? Why is it snowing? Why does she say it’s impossible- oooooooooooh ASLAN!”

And if my not quite four year old daughter gets it, then they did it right. I hope I can take her to see it when it comes out.

I’m so ready. Bring it on.

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I haven’t exactly been good to you, lately, have I ? Well, if makes you feel better neglected blog, abandoned readers, you are not alone. I’ve done no writing this week. None. Well, that’s not true. I scribble words on paper here and there, in defiance of my word enumerating accountant. It’s the first time in ages I’ve wanted to write stuff by hand. I’m not sure what that’s about, but I’m letting it go for now. My music collection is neglected too. All sorts of songs that iTunes says I’ve never played before, that I want to listen to and enjoy, but no time to do it. I want to make myself a couple of new mix cds, too. I never finished the Perdido Street Station entry I started, though I did finish the book. I was hoping to get it in before April was up, but I missed that. I meant to have written the thing about grief by now too, but that needs its own special emotional readiness, and I’m not always just there when I also have the time to blog. I’m still behind on email. I’m not reading as much as I’d like to. I still haven’t started Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and I really, really want to read that. The only thing I’m doing well in right now is critiquing. I joined an online critiquing group, which I’ll talk more about later, but my inner accountant is working overtime over there because there’s this ratio to keep and I feel I must not only meet it but exceed it, so I’m slaving away over other people’s words and I haven’t submitted a thing myself. I tell myself it’s useful, and it is, but maybe it’s also putting off. Who knows? When I finish a third short story I will send the first one out into the world. I mean that. Only I haven’t done it yet, because I have only the first of the three stories. I have a couple of good starts, paragraphs and openings that could turn into stories at some point, but that’s it. I do have an official idea list, though, so that’s something. There’s some quite good ideas in it, too. On the other hand, I’m stuck in YWGYSL, again. I think I might turn my (third) hand to full-time edits of Cualcotel for a couple of weeks, if my internal word count agonizer can deal with it (and I’m not sure that he can). I also sabotaged myself by, you know, giving out this URL a bunch and then not updating at all. Way to keep people’s interest! (and this directionless blather isn’t likely to help). I even had a dream I missed putting in. Something last week about my brother that I don’t remember now. I want to play Civ III for about a week and be completely lazy.

Firefox is irritating me by being especially crashy. I was a rev behind, so I upgraded, hoping to make it stop, but that has not helped. It’s especially bad when I’m in bookmarks or history. It doesn’t save my session when it crashes, which makes me a very unhappy sort of Anarkey, since I never have less than eight tabs open. I even rebooted my laptop, which had like, I don’t know, seven thousand days of uptime or something. No dice, it’s still crashy. I used to be able to keep Firefox open for a week, now I’m starting it three or more times a day. It’s enough to make one swear off this internet thing!

I want to put some stuff I’ve written up here. I mean the real stuff, the fiction, not this journal type stuff. Maybe some Tatiana stuff. I’ve been writing a few new things about her and her friends. I’m not sure how I want to present that, though. Should I make another section on the site for the writing stuff or should I just paste it into a regular entry? Do I really want that stuff out here for people to read? I didn’t mind it out there when it was on those storyboard BBS’s a decade ago so I’m not sure why I’m squeamish now. I think it has low promise for publication which is why I think it’s a good candidate for the web. I’ve also been ruminating over renaming Angel. I do that periodically. It doesn’t matter, you see, that he had his name first. Joss has made it impossible for him to keep his name. So, in a sort of perverse turnabout, I’m thinking about calling him Book. It’s just a nickname anyways, but I need something. No one calls him by his real name, that I know for sure. Book is not as right as Angel was, but it’s closer to what I want than Preacher, which was the previous contender.

Right. Focus.

Hmmm, so hard to focus when I don’t think I started this entry with a point.

Counting this one, there’s five unfinished, unposted drafts on ecto. I wonder if I’ll ever finish all those other ones.

I guess avoiding this type of entry is why people do those meme things, huh?

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