contentment: the ultimate writer’s block

You know how people tend to gain weight once they’re in a happy relationship? Or how Ryan Adams made bad music after he got sober?

Well, being content made me a neglectful writer.

I’ve wondered about this before. Do artists need to be depressed/angry/sad/hurt/high to make good art? I don’t think of my blog as being in the same category as your favorite album, favorite Impressionist painting, favorite novel. But, like so many artists, I do find that being in a particular mindset motivates me to write.

I want to approach my blog like work, so that I will be more disciplined and consistent, but I also want to give myself freedom. Because I do write for a living. It’s vastly different than what I write here, but it’s still writing. And writing is hard.

Recently, I was talking with a friend, who is a vastly better writer than I am, about writing and how I didn’t want to approach my blog like it’s a LiveJournal from 9th grade. But he argued for the diary approach to blogging and reminded me not to undervalue my experiences. He told me there will always be at least one person who relates to your story.

Then I listened to “Spill Your Guts”, an episode from The Allusionist, which is a podcast that I’m convinced was specifically designed for me to nerd out over grammar history lessons. The episode featured the guys from Mortified, and was about writing diary entries. They talked about the historical impact of diaries, as well as the funny patterns they’ve discovered: teenagers using LOL in their diaries, people assigning gender to their diaries, or addressing them with only Russian names. But also the importance of a diary as personal memoir.

So, why am I rambling about diaries and art and how writing is hard (boo hoo)? I’m getting there.

journal

If we aren’t real-life friends, or just haven’t spoken in the past year, you are probably wondering what led to the contented non-writing phase. And the main thing is I’m in this awesome, healthy relationship. That’s definitely not the only thing (because you don’t have to be in a relationship to be happy). I’m also excelling at my good (but boring) job, get to see my family more, have awesome friends, love living alone, and have a cat who stopped shitting on all my stuff (mostly).

But that relationship thing. When people ask how it’s going, I tell them, “I never knew what it was like to be in a relationship that didn’t feel like work most of the time. That was easy and loving and fun and meaningful.” This man is kind and lovable and he plays the fucking banjo. He doesn’t critique me or judge me. And when, early in our relationship, he asked if I wanted to come over and just read together, I thought, “THIS IS ALL I’VE EVER WANTED.”

He also encourages me to write.

So, I’m going to give myself the freedom to write some LiveJournaly posts, but will also commit to being more disciplined. In an effort to be more consistent, here are a few new “columns” I’m going to try:

  • Rank City, in which I rank whatever the fuck I want, such as stray cats
  • Beer/brewery reviews
  • Food/restaurant reviews (because I cannot keep reading the awful shit on Columbus Underground)
  • Book Reports, in which I write you a book report

And I will return to the music and feminist topics that weigh on my chest, making their presence known, much like Boo does after a long weekend away.

boo

it’s time for a grammar lesson.

Okay. Here’s the thing. I know plenty of other blogs and websites have grammar posts that are better than this will be, but I don’t really care. If you do, then head over to Slate or some other place.

My love for proper grammar (and subsequent snobbery) has been heightened recently by my new job. See, I have this 70 page style guide that I basically need to memorize in order to do my job well. (That sentence would have been critiqued and edited for numerous reasons.) Fortunately, a lot of it is English grammar that I already know because I went to elementary school. But the rest is stylized and specific to both the type of writing I’m doing and the company. In any case, reading through the guide multiple times has led me here. To the grammar rant. Let us begin.

1. There is one, I repeat, ONE e in the word judgment.

2. There is no a in the word definitely.

3. Repeat after me: people who, things that. Please stop saying people that. We are not things.

4. Its is possessive. It’s is a contraction meaning it is or it has, as in, It’s disturbing to me how often apostrophes are abused.

5. To follow suit, your is possessive. You’re is a contraction meaning you are.

6. Adverbs modify verbs (crazy, right?). Use them. They feel neglected. They want to be your friend.

7. CD’s is possessive. CDs is plural. CDs’ is plural possessive.

8. Penultimate means next to last. It does not mean more ultimate than ultimate, or some variation of that.

9. Proud vs. prideful. I realize that prideful is actually a word. However, I still don’t like it. We already have the word proud. Maybe it’s just because I spend too much time with church-folk, and they really like saying prideful. (Sidebar: I could probably write an additional post on misused and made up words in the church. Quick example: the word gospel is a noun. It is not a verb. You cannot gospel someone.)

10. A semicolon (;) connects two independent clauses that are related. An independent clause is a phrase that can stand on its own (AKA a complete sentence). Now promise me you’ll stop putting semicolons wherever you feel like. Or maybe you better just promise to stop using them altogether.

11. Acrossed is not a word. Neither is acrost.

12. Quotation marks. I’m not even sure how to explain the improper use of quotation marks, so I’m going to employ a photo, which I took in the bathroom of one of my old haunts (feel free to admire my tanned shoulder). For everyone’s sake, if you’re making a sign, just play it safe and don’t put any quotes on it.

13. Less vs. fewer. Now, this is one that I’m not especially picky about, but I know plenty of people who are. The rule is use fewer when referring to people or things. Note the s on the end of thing. Use less when referring to something that cannot be counted, or cannot be plural. Less is also generally used with numbers. So you would say: I need less ice. I need fewer ice cubes. I need less than seven.

I’m going to reserve the right to add to this list. Please share your grammar pet peeves!

And now you are all welcome to critique my writing. But be nice.