Over the last couple years, I’ve gotten into running partly from my desire to get fit but also because races are actually pretty fun! So far, I’ve completed two half marathons (currently training for my third), one 15k, five 10ks, and numerous 5ks. Running is so popular nowadays that it’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t too long ago when people would have thought you were weird if you liked to run for exercise, let alone enjoyment. That’s why I thought this video from Vox was an eye-opener, and it made me appreciate those who dared to stap on their sneakers and leave the haters in their dust. Check it out!
Ahhh…the poor maligned adverb. I completely agree with Matt Moore’s 2012 post (and not just because we share the same last name) that there is a time and place for adverbs. Yes, we should avoid sloppy writing and be precise with our words, but that doesn’t mean adverbs should be avoided at all costs. On the contrary, adverbs are a basic tenet of language. “To advise young writers to get rid of all their adverbs is like advising a pitcher with four great pitches to throw only three of them — it’s professional suicide,” Cris Freese, Writer’s Digest.
As a writer, you’ve heard the “rule” about never using adverbs. This rule is wrong for two reasons:
- There is nothing wrong with adverbs.
- There are no rules in writing… unless you are a weak writer.
What’s wrong with adverbs?
Not using adverbs is the bastard mutant off-spring of some excellent writing advice: be precise in your wording.
- Don’t say “very big”. Say “enormous” or “huge”.
- Don’t say “said quietly” but rather “whispered”.
“Very big” is sloppy writing. I agree with that.
I also agree that adverbs can distance the reader or fill in details the reader should be filling in. Mark Landen knocks this idea out of the park in his blog post.
But this does not mean you have to excise an element of grammar. Eliminating adverbs is like eliminating gerunds, adjectives or any grammatical form. That is, there’s a difference between taking issue with…
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A couple months ago a friend/coworker lent me his copy of “The Books of Magic” as my first introduction to Neil Gaiman. He’s a huge fan and was eager to convert me. So far I’m hooked and have started reading “The Sandman” series – I’ve even begun adding other works by Gaimain to my Goodread’s list. Fast forward to earlier this week, this same friend sent me a short story by Gaiman and I figured I would share it here because I really enjoyed it 🙂
The Thames is a filthy beast: it winds through London like a snake, or a sea serpent. All the rivers flow into it, the Fleet and the Tyburn and the Neckinger, carrying all the filth and scum and waste, the bodies of cats and dogs and the bones of sheep and pigs down into the brown water of the Thames, which carries them east into the estuary and from there into the North Sea and oblivion.
It is raining in London. The rain washes the dirt into the gutters, and it swells streams into rivers, rivers into powerful things. The rain is a noisy thing, splashing and pattering and rattling the rooftops. If it is clean water as it falls from the skies it only needs to touch London to become dirt, to stir dust and make it mud.
Nobody drinks it, neither the rain water nor the river water. They make jokes about Thames water killing you instantly, and it is not true. There are mudlarks who will dive deep for thrown pennies then come up again, spout the river water, shiver and hold up their coins. They do not die, of course, or not of that, although there are no mudlarks over fifteen years of age.
The woman does not appear to care about the rain.
She walks the Rotherhithe docks, as she has done for years, for decades: nobody knows how many years, because nobody cares. She walks the docks, or she stares out to sea. She examines the ships, as they bob at anchor. She must do something, to keep body and soul from dissolving their partnership, but none of the folk of the dock have the foggiest idea what this could be.
You take refuge from the deluge beneath a canvas awning put up by a sailmaker. You believe yourself to be alone under there, at first, for she is statue-still and staring out across the water, even though there is nothing to be seen through the curtain of rain. The far side of the Thames has vanished.
And then she sees you. She sees you and she begins to talk, not to you, oh no, but to the grey water that falls from the grey sky into the grey river. She says, “My son wanted to be a sailor,” and you do not know what to reply, or how to reply. You would have to shout to make yourself heard over the roar of the rain, but she talks, and you listen. You discover yourself craning and straining to catch her words.
“My son wanted to be a sailor.
“I told him not to go to sea. I’m your mother, I said. The sea won’t love you like I love you, she’s cruel. But he said, Oh Mother, I need to see the world. I need to see the sun rise in the tropics, and watch the Northern Lights dance in the Arctic sky, and most of all I need to make my fortune and then, when it’s made I will come back to you, and build you a house, and you will have servants, and we will dance, mother, oh how we will dance…
“And what would I do in a fancy house? I told him. You’re a fool with your fine talk. I told him of his father, who never came back from the sea – some said he was dead and lost overboard, while some swore blind they’d seen him running a whore-house in Amsterdam.
“It’s all the same. The sea took him.
“When he was twelve years old, my boy ran away, down to the docks, and he shipped on the first ship he found, to Flores in the Azores, they told me.
“There’s ships of ill-omen. Bad ships. They give them a lick of paint after each disaster, and a new name, to fool the unwary.
“Sailors are superstitious. The word gets around. This ship was run aground by its captain, on orders of the owners, to defraud the insurers; and then, all mended and as good as new, it gets taken by pirates; and then it takes shipment of blankets and becomes a plague ship crewed by the dead, and only three men bring it into port in Harwich…
“My son had shipped on a stormcrow ship. It was on the homeward leg of the journey, with him bringing me his wages – for he was too young to have spent them on women and on grog, like his father – that the storm hit.
“He was the smallest one in the lifeboat.
“They said they drew lots fairly, but I do not believe it. He was smaller than them. After eight days adrift in the boat, they were so hungry. And if they did draw lots, they cheated.
“They gnawed his bones clean, one by one, and they gave them to his new mother, the sea. She shed no tears and took them without a word. She’s cruel.
“Some nights I wish he had not told me the truth. He could have lied.
“They gave my boy’s bones to the sea, but the ship’s mate – who had known my husband, and known me too, better than my husband thought he did, if truth were told – he kept a bone, as a keepsake.
“When they got back to land, all of them swearing my boy was lost in the storm that sank the ship, he came in the night, and he told me the truth of it, and he gave me the bone, for the love there had once been between us.
“I said, you’ve done a bad thing, Jack. That was your son that you’ve eaten.
“The sea took him too, that night. He walked into her, with his pockets filled with stones, and he kept walking. He’d never learned to swim.
“And I put the bone on a chain to remember them both by, late at night, when the wind crashes the ocean waves and tumbles them on to the sand, when the wind howls around the houses like a baby crying.”
The rain is easing, and you think she is done, but now, for the first time, she looks at you, and appears to be about to say something. She has pulled something from around her neck, and now she is reaching it out to you.
“Here,” she says. Her eyes, when they meet yours, are as brown as the Thames. “Would you like to touch it?”
You want to pull it from her neck, to toss it into the river for the mudlarks to find or to lose. But instead you stumble out from under the canvas awning, and the water of the rain runs down your face like someone else’s tears.
Valentine’s Day is a couple days away and if you’re a single booklover like me, you might be spending it relaxing at home and reading a good book with some wine and pizza. Mmmm…pizzaaaa. Wait, what are we talking about? Oh yes, Valentine’s Day and books! Thanks to this infographic by EssayTigers.com, us booklovers can swoon (err, I mean imagine) what it would be like to go on a date with a famous author.
Which author would you most like to go on a date? I love the quote by Jane Austen but the date with Ernest Hemingway sounds dreamy lol.
I was watching a Buzzfeed video the other day about the stupid things people have done on meth, and the video featured lines of poetry about meth that caught my attention and made me want to read more. Fortunately in the comment section (never thought I would say that), someone posted the full poem. You may have read the poem before since it’s reportedly been around since 2005, but I figured I would share anyway because it’s that damn good. The poem is hauntingly beautiful and even though I’ve never tried or have thought of trying meth, the words struck me to my core.
I destroy homes, I tear families apart, take your children, and that’s just the start.
I’m more costly than diamonds, more precious than gold, The sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.
If you need me, remember I’m easily found, I live all around you – in schools and in town.
I live with the rich; I live with the poor, I live down the street, and maybe next door.
I’m made in a lab, but not like you think, I can be made under the kitchen sink. In your child’s closet, and even in the woods, If this scares you to death, well it certainly should.
I have many names, but there’s one you know best, I’m sure you’ve heard of me, my name is crystal meth.
My power is awesome; try me you’ll see, But if you do, you may never break free.
Just try me once and I might let you go, But try me twice, and I’ll own your soul.
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie, You do what you have to — just to get high.
The crimes you’ll commit for my narcotic charms Will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms, your lungs your nose.
You’ll lie to your mother; you’ll steal from your dad, When you see their tears, you should feel sad.
But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised, I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways.
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids, I turn people from God, and separate friends.
I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride, I’ll be with you always — right by your side.
You’ll give up everything – your family, your home, Your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.
I’ll take and take, till you have nothing more to give, When I’m finished with you, you’ll be lucky to live.
If you try me be warned – this is no game, If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.
I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind, I’ll own you completely, your soul will be mine.
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed, The voices you’ll hear, from inside your head.
The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see, I want you to know, these are all gifts from me.
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart, That you are mine, and we shall not part.
You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do, But you came to me, not I to you.
You knew this would happen, many times you were told, But you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.
You could have said no, and just walked away, If you could live that day over, now what would you say?
I’ll be your master, you will be my slave, I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.
Now that you have met me, what will you do? Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you.
I can bring you more misery than words can tell, Come take my hand, let me lead you to hell.
I love reading about people’s lives before they became famous because it reminds me they used to be in the same boring boat as the rest of us. While the infographic is fun and done well, it would have been cool to see a greater diversity of authors. (I gotta admit though, Jack London being an oyster pirate is pretty bad ass.)
Original source: https://unplag.com/blog/writers-weird-jobs/
This video from Badger & Winters, an advertising agency in New York, has been circulating on social media lately and it’s been reigniting discussions around the portrayal of women in ads. Women being used as sexual objects isn’t anything new, but this is the first time an ad agency is taking this kind of public stance. “Socially conscious advertising” has been gaining traction over the last couple years so I’m not really surprised to see #WomenNotObjects taking off.
In general, I don’t have an issue with sex being used to sell products. Do I think it’s lazy? Yeah. Do I think it’s wrong? To a certain point (in particular, when adolescent girls are sexualized. It’s just so…creepy. ). I think over-sexualization isn’t only a women’s issue, however, men have become over-sexualized too in advertising. There is growing evidence that body insecurity is increasingly affecting men and boys. Sex and unrealistic body ideals may be effective to sell things, but it’s not the only way to do it. Hopefully other agencies and advertisers take a note from this video.