And I Say This Passionately

There's a current trend in writing that really annoys me. Everywhere you look online, there are sites dedicated to people telling other people how to write. No, wait, strike that. Make that people admonishing other people on how to write...

The content of these sites is mostly made up of rules and regulations, all of which only serve to rob the written word of its color and its blood, and to put pressure on writers to conform to a narrow model of what is and is not publishable in today's market. And that's a whole 'nuther issue which I broached in an earlier post, so I won't go into it again.

While I tend to agree with Mark Twain's advice on the use of the word 'very' ("Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very', your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be."), I'm damn loathe to obey people who instruct us to cut the very parts of speech that make our language an expression of our humanity.

The trick is to use these tastefully, not castrate the language entirely. That's the art of writing, after all. Isn't it kind of like telling a painter she or he can't use the color yellow? Tell that to Paul Gauguin, who painted yellow skies. And while you're at it, tell Mozart he can't use grace notes or trills. "Too many notes!"

It reminds me of how, all my life, my mother hammered it into my head that I can't wear red. "Redheads can't wear red," she told me over and over again. It became such a mantra in my youth that when I finally rebelled (as an adult, no less) and bought a red top, I felt more liberated--and terrified--than when I'd left Christianity.

Today I read the decree, "Adverbs should be eliminated from the written word."

Well, I respectfully disagree, and I close this entry with the following:

"It is a triumph," said Mr. Banks, laying his knife down for a moment. He had eaten attentively. It was rich; it was tender. It was perfectly cooked. (Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse)
"So you're awake? he said jubilantly. "What's the matter, are you sick?" (Henry Miller, Quiet Days in Clichy)
"That is all very fine," admitted Kamaswami reluctantly, "but you are in fact a merchant. Or were you only travelling for your pleasure?" (Herman Hesse, Siddhartha)
"Yes, yes," responded the dairyman indecisively. (Thomas Hardy, Tess Of The D'Urbervilles)