The Art of Writing Circa 2019 in 44 Easy Steps

1. 1 minute: Come up with interesting observation or creative idea regarding a recent experience.

2. 10 minutes: Compose concise, eloquent, and impactful written expression of said idea in 6 lines.

3. 10 minutes: It’s too pompous. Remove 2 lines.

4. 10 minutes: It’s too vertiginous. Remove 2 lines.

5. 10 minutes: 2 lines is less pithy than one. Remove 1 line.

6. 10 minutes: It isn’t accessible to a broad audience. Remove all words over 3 letters, adjectives, adverbs, and any verbs of latinate origin.

7. 10 minutes: That one semicolon really should be a colon. People don’t like semicolons.

8. 40 minutes: It could be misinterpreted by the far left, the far right, the Koala anti-defamation league, or Mothers Against Mothers. Reword it.

9. 1 hour: Properly format the blog post. Italics? No, bold. No, italics. Maybe small-caps? That font really doesn’t look right.

10. 4.8 hours: Research current trends on google. Add the same 15 long-tail keywords to the title, description, excerpt, post metadata, twitter metadata, facebook metadata, and google+ metadata. Realize google+ doesn’t exist anymore and feel sad, as if you put out an extra place setting for that one late cousin whose name nobody remembers.

11. 6 hours: Locate a tangentially-related image with a suitable Creative Commons license. Realize the license doesn’t allow the modifications necessary to achieve an NC-17 rating. Find another image, this time with an open license on Wikimedia. Hope that nobody else had the brilliant idea to use a generic image of a college student with the word “Stock” overlaid on it.

12. 2 hours: Remove face from image to avoid any potential liability.

13. 2 hours: Thumbnail is different size than image on blog post is different size from instagram version is different size from flickr version. All involve different formats and much much smaller files than you have. Resize, reformat, and wish you weren’t using Windows.

14. 1 hour: Pick an appropriate excerpt, hashtag, and alt-image text.

15. 1 hour: Tweet, post, and instagram your idea as text, pseudo-text, image, and sentient pure-energy.

16. 2 hours: Cross-post to all 14 of your other blogs, web-pages, and social-media accounts.

16. 20 seconds: Realize that your long-tail keywords no longer are trending.

17. 20 seconds: Receive 2000 angry tweets. Realize your hashtag already refers to a far-right hate group, a far-left hate group, a Beyonce Sci-Fi fanfiction group, the political campaign of the 237th least popular Democratic candidate for President, the Lower Mystic Valley Haskell, Knitting, and Dorodango group, or all of the above.

18. 10.8 seconds: Beat Jack Dorsey’s own speed-record for deleting a tweet (which happened to be about Elon Musk tweeting about Donald Trump’s tweets).

19. 6 hours: Update long-tail keywords to reflect current trends. Realize that Beyonce Sci-Fi fanfiction is trending, and leverage your newfound accidental affiliation to comment on the irony of your newfound accidental affiliation. Then tweet Beyonce to ask if she’ll retweet you.

29. 5 seconds: Receive automated cease and desist order from Taylor Swift, who loans out her 2000 person legal team to Beyonce on the rare occasions it isn’t in use. Spot idling black limo full of tattooed lawyers outside window. One who looks suspiciously like Jennifer Pariser grins and gently drags her finger across her throat.

30. 4.2 seconds: Beat own recent world record for deletion of a tweet.

31. 28.6 minutes: Decide that social media is a waste of time. “Delete” all accounts.

32. 28.6 minutes: Decide that you need a professional presence on social media after all, and won’t be intimidated by Taylor Swift or her 2000 lawyers. “Undelete” all your accounts.

33. 1 minute: Decide original post is stupid, obsolete, and has several grammatical errors. Delete it.

34. 2 hours: Delete all variants of post on blogs, web-pages, twitter, facebook, and instagram.

35. 4 minutes: Just in case it’s really still brilliant, email idea to a friend.

36. 4.8 hours; Worry whether [insert appropriate gender normative or non-normative pronoun] likes it.

37. 1 minute: Try to interpret friend’s ambiguous single-emoticon reply.

38. 30 minutes: Decide you’re not going to let the establishment dictate what’s art, and that the post’s stupidity, obsolescence, and several grammatical errors are intentional and signs of unappreciated genius.

39. 12 minutes: Receive voicemail that you missed 2 consecutive shifts at Starbucks and are fired.

40. 30 minutes: Decide you’re not going to be an indentured servant to the establishment and will go it alone like most great artists throughout history.

41. 0.8 seconds: Realize you have no marketable skill, don’t know how to market a skill, and don’t even know what markets or skills are. Recall that most great artists throughout history had “Lord” before their name, got money from someone with “Lord” before their name, or died in penury. Consider writing a post about the injustice of this.

42. 0.2 seconds: Have panic attack that you’ll end up homeless, penniless, and forced to use the public library for internet-access. Google whether euthanasia is legal, and how many Lattes it would take.

43. 1 minute: Call manager at Starbucks, apologize profusely, and blame Taylor Swift for your absence. Hint that you have an “in” with her, and if the manager takes you back there may be sightings of Taylor Swift’s people idling in a black limo outside.

44. 6.7 hours: A sadder and a wiser man, you rise the morrow morn. You decide to share your newfound sadness and wisdom with others. Go to step 1.

Some Pet Peeves of a Grammar Snob

Language evolves organically, and only a fool would expect the world to remain the same just to accommodate their own inability to move past the life knowledge they happened to acquire during their particular formative years.

But I’m a fool and proud of it. Or more precisely, I’m selective in my folly. I choose to accept changes which arise organically in a sense which meets my arbitrary standards, but have nothing but disdain for those changes effected through the apparent illiteracy and incompetence of celebrities (also known as “influencers”). To me, it’s like corporate-speak but dumber. And that’s saying a lot.

Put in simpler and less pompous terms for those of you who don’t understand big words: if some Hollywood moron screwed up and a bunch of jokers adopted the meme, that’s not “organic” growth of language — it’s a Hollywood moron screwing up and a bunch of jokers adopting the meme. None of these people should be allowed near the language, let alone given power to influence it. As far as I’m concerned, there should be a license required. And since you need a language license to take the written test in the first place, nobody could get one. But that’s ok. The language can’t change if nobody uses it.

So, without further ado (well, there wasn’t really much ado so far, just a lot of whining), here are a few of my favorite things (sung to the dulcet strains of an NWA song):

  1. Same Difference: A difference requires two objects for comparison. To be the same, two differences involve at least 3 objects (and possibly 4) and two comparisons. For example: I’m pedantic and pompous. Same thing (well, not really, but we’ll allow it). I’m pedantic and pompous, and he’s pretentious and self-important. Same difference (well, not really, but a sight better than before). Same thing: 2 items, 1 comparison. Same difference: 3-4 items, 2 comparisons.

  2. Pay the consequences: You pay a penalty or a price. You suffer consequences. I hope that the idiot who birthed this does all three.

  3. Associated to: This one requires a delicate touch. It’s a mistake by my favorite people: mathematicians. And they have oh-so-fragile egos. Sadly, I can’t blame the arch-media-corporate hegemony which secretly controls our brains through alien ultra-quantum-fractal-catchwords. Not that I would anyway. I’m not sure where “associated to” started, but I have an irresistible urge to jump up and scream whenever somebody says it. And since most math articles, books, and even wikipedia articles seem to have adopted it, I basically spend all day standing up and screaming. Which is no different than before, but now I have a plausible explanation when cops, social workers, and concerned-looking parents inquire. I thought of writing an automatic script to change every occurrence in wikipedia, but decided I was too lazy. Besides, every article has a little gatekeeper associated to it who guards it and tends it and flames anybody who tries to change anything. I did read a possible explanation for the phenomenon, however (the “associated to”, not the little folk guarding wikipedia pages). In latinate languages such as Italian, “associare” takes “a” as its preposition, which naively translates to “to” in English. I suspect this is indeed the source, not because I have any knowledge beyond what I read but because of what it would mean if it weren’t true. The only other plausible explanation is that Gonklaxu the Dissatisfier has penetrated the barrier to our galaxy and is sowing discord amongst the mathematicians who pose the greatest threat to his 12-dimensional nonorientable being. Since mathematicians apparently don’t read anything but math books, that strategy would be singularly successful. The thought of Gonklaxu does keep me awake at night, I’ll admit. Because if he is invading, it means he didn’t stop emailing because he was banished to a nonmeasurable corner of the duoverse. Rejection hurts so much. I associate it to the pain of hearing associate to.

I’m sure I’ll think of a few more soon, so stay tuned!