...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

May 31, 2005

My Breezy Manner

Mark Nicodemo writes in the comments section to the preceding post, "She must be a law student with that arrogance." i figured Mark was talking about me, since Shelly is actually short for Sheldon, and also since i have been attracting well-meaning criticism like flies lately. Turns out he was probably referring to Shelly, but still, the attribution of "arrogance" to moi is not undeserved. Especially in regards to my writing style.

But, to be more accurate, it's not arrogance that you find in my writing, it's what i call a certain casual pedantry, or even more accurately, as the master E.B. White called it, "a breezy manner."

Truly, in this blog i continually, unjudiciously, perhaps annoyingly, although unconsciously violate Mr. White's rule number 12 from chapter five of the classic rulebook The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.

Does this ring any bells?

Do not affect a breezy manner.

The volume of writing is enormous, these days, and much of it has a sort of windiness about it, almost as though the author were in a state of euphoria. "Spontaneous me," sang Whitman, and, in his innocence, let loose the hordes of uninspired scribblers who would one day confuse spontaneity with genius.

The breezy style is often the work of an egocentric, the person who imagines that everything that comes to mind is of general interest and that uninhibited prose creates high spirits and carries the day. Open any alumni magazine, turn to the class notes, and you are quite likely to encounter old Spontaneous Me at work--an aging collegian who writes something like this:

Well, chums, here I am again with my bagful of dirt about your disorderly classmates, after spending a helluva weekend ing N'Yawk trying to view the Columbia game from behind two bumbershoots and a glazed cornea. And speaking of news, howzabout tossing a few chirce nuggets my way?
This is an extreme example, but the same wind blows, at lesser velocities, across vast expanses of journalistic prose. The author in this case has managed in two sentences to commit most of the unpardonable sins: he obviously has nothing to say, he is showing off and directing the attention of the reader to himself, he is using slang with neither provocation nor ingenuity, he adopts a patronizing air by throwing in the word chirce, he is humorless (though full of fun), dull, and empty. He has not done his work.
i plead guilty. Is my face red? Professor White would be so disappointed if he had lived to see the blogosphere. (The world wide web was in its infancy in 1985, when White died. Ironically, he was most famous for writing about a different web.) Anyways, the point of this post is not that i plan to change my style. In professional and academic writing i am sufficiently more phlegmatic, (and i did get the second highest grade in my writing class this last semester.) i just want you to know that i know, i know you know, and that's that. If that makes any sense?

Oh hell, never mind. Tomorrow is poetry day and you can read someone else's writing then.

Posted by annika, May. 31, 2005 |
Rubric: On The Blogosphere


No, no! My label was for "Shelly" who was highly excessive in his/her critism of your design (which, by the way, I still think is kinda cute).

Perhaps I did not explain myself well enough. Sorry for the confusion.

Posted by: Mark on May. 31, 2005

You can't be too arrogant if you write 9 paragraphs in reaction to a perceived criticism. If you were arrogant, you would have said fuck you and banned him for life.

Posted by: Jake on May. 31, 2005

Annie, you writes good. Real good.

Posted by: Hugo on May. 31, 2005

ya, ya, shelly sucks, more importantly, let's talk about ME. I'm one pithy motherfucker.

Posted by: Casca on May. 31, 2005

I am doing something I never do, that is copy and paste a comment I made on the other thread for convenience in keeping on track here. This is what I posed earlier to the earlier thread:

Thanks Mark, I am flattered to be thought young, and can ignore the rest of the remark.

Design is a matter of style, and you win a few and lose a few. I expressed my opinion of the design while expressing my support for Annie, and willingness to put my money where my mouth (or computer, if you will)is.

I was a young law student once, but that was in 1958-61. Now I am an old senior guy at a big law firm and don't do much but blog away and dabble in a little political stuff.

Now Annie, she's the law student and has the slightly thinner skin. Not for my remark (viz.) however, which she took in good humor, as did I, her retort.

Mind your OFB.

Posted by shelly on May. 31, 2005

To which I add:

Casca, butt out. You are an attention starved child. So I agreed with you once; even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally.

Posted by: shelly on May. 31, 2005

"Now I am an old senior guy at a big law firm and don't do much but blog away and dabble in a little political stuff."

Excellent. How can I get that job?

Posted by: Mark on May. 31, 2005

Lol, you are far too thin-skinned to play this game. OK, OK, you don't suck. Happy?

More importantly, LET'S TALK ABOUT ME!

Posted by: Casca on May. 31, 2005

I got published on Orson Scott Card's "The Ornery American." Check me out!


Posted by: Mark on May. 31, 2005