18 May 2005 by Published in: writing No comments yet

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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