Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Linguistics, Style, and Writing

 An hour well spent for anybody who communicates in English.


The Q&A that followed the lecture:



Monday, August 1, 2022

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

Hemingway didn't say it.

Hemingway didn't say it.
Peter De Vries did:

Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation - the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.


That being said, Hemingway was known to have polished off more than a few adult beverages in hsi day: 

“I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you?”

But, he didn't drink while writing. From a 1964 Writer's Digest article about Hemingway (based on an interview by Edward Stafford):  

"Jeezus Christ!" Papa was incredulous. "Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You're thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes—and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he's had his first one. Besides," he added, "who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time, anyway?"

That was a hard shot at Faulkner*, but at the time they were the two stars of the American literary scene and competitive ... and ...Faulkner himself said:

“My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.”


Speaking of knocking back some booze, there are other writers of note who have thoughts about writers, writing, and drinking:


I'm not a writer with a drinking problem, I'm a drinker with a writing problem. - Dorothy Parker


In order to write at a high level of competence you need a comprehensive vocabulary, a keen sense of overall structure, and an inner beat or cadence. Your senses must be razor-sharp. Alcohol blunts those senses even as it releases self-restraint. Therefore many writers feel they are getting down to the real story after a belt or two, little realizing they are damaging their ability to tell the real story. - Rita Mae Brown


I never drink while I'm working, but after a few glasses I get ideas that would never have occurred to me dead sober. - Irwin Shaw

 

I don't know any writers who don't drink. - James Baldwin

 

You have to have enormous discipline, especially if you like your drink. I know so many writers who went down the drain. If you like to drink, you can’t do it. It’s a reward. It should never be a crutch. - Robert Leckie


You know what Lawrence said: "The novel is the highest example of subtle interrelatedness that man has discovered." I agree! And just consider for one second what drinking does to "subtle interrelatedness." Forget "subtle"; "interrelatedness" is what makes novels work—without it, you have no narrative momentum; you have incoherent rambling. Drunks ramble; so do books by drunks. - John Irving

 

Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol. - Steve Martin

 

The more I drink the better I write and the more I write the better I drink. - Shawn Hatfield

 

There's an obvious romance to being the drinking writer. But if I'm drinking, I'm not writing.Liz Brixius

 

I often wonder if all the writers who are alcoholics drink a lot because they aren't writing. It is not because they are writers that they are drinking, but because they are writers who are not writing. - Natalie Goldberg


_________________________


*Want to know more about these rivals? Search: Faulkner Hemingway feud 


Sunday, July 24, 2022

A Copywriter Dies ...

Copywriter Heaven or Copywriter Hell

"You OK?"

"I guess."

I was on the phone with Greg, a copywriter who had just left the ad agency where he had worked for the past 7 years.

"Why'd you leave?"

"Had a disagreement with the management."

"What was the disagreement?" I asked.

"I thought I should continue working there ... they disagreed."

"Ugh. What was the problem?"

"They had a number of reasons, but I think I was too old and making too big a paycheck."

"That sucks."

"Yep ... but all I can think about is this old joke:

A copywriter dies, and Saint Peter offers him a choice of Heaven or Hell. 

The writer asks to see both. 

Leading him to a doorway, Saint Peter says, 'In Hell, there's a room just for copywriters.'

Inside, the writer sees row upon row of faceless people, all scribbling frantically as huge winged demons lay into them with heavy whips. 'The meeting's in five minutes! The meeting's in five minutes!' the demons scream. 

'Uh ... better show me Heaven,' the writer says. 

'In Heaven, there's also a room for copywriters,' Saint Peter says, indicating a different door. 

Peering into the second room, the writer again sees row upon row of faceless people, all scribbling frantically as huge winged demons lay into them with heavy whips. 'The meeting's in five minutes! The meeting's in five minutes!' the demons scream. 

The copywriter protests, 'But I thought you said this was Heaven!' 

St. Peter says, 'Well, here the work gets produced.'"

"Funny," I said.

"Sort of. I think I might've just gotten released from Hell."


__________________________


Postscript

"I'll credit you when I post this."

"Nah. I just got bounced from my job and don't need any sympathy outreach right now. Credit Greg."

"Who's Greg?"

"Funniest kid in my second grade class. Could burp the alphabet."

"Sure I can't just credit you?"

"Greg."

 "OK. Greg it is."




Thursday, July 14, 2022

Naming Paints

Should I paint the bathroom Song of Summer , Disco Nap, or Salty Tear?

Of course those weren't my only choices. 

I'd decided not to go with Kitten Whiskers, Phantom Mist, Grandma's Refrigerator, Subtle Touch, Dangerous Robot, Divine Pleasure, Banana Jellybean, Hamster Cuddles, Mermaid Net, Lazy Lizard, Spirit Whisper, Golly Tamale, Summer's Secret, and Wind's Breath.

And, yes. Those are all real paint color names.

As are these:

Daytona Peach

Un-teal We Meet Again

Newborn Baby

Hyperlink

In Your Eyes

Snugglepuss

Pennies from Heaven

Feel the Energy

Marry Me


But my favorites come from Farrow & Ball: 

Mole's Breath

Skulking Room Pink

Dead Salmon

Dead Salmon? Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball’s color curator, explains,“Dead Salmon has a terrible connotation, but it’s derived from an old painter’s invoice that the team found at a historic hall in England. It’s from 1805. Salmon is the color, and dead refers to the matte paint finish; it has nothing to do with the fish being dead, but put together, it’s amusing.”


I want a job naming paint colors.




Linguistics, Style, and Writing

 An hour well spent for anybody who communicates in English. The Q&A that followed the lecture: