Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Writing without a clue

From Wiki Commons: Legend below, left  

    Pointless babble
   Pass-along value
This morning, I checked out a bunch of author websites I found through Twitter.

Doing that saved me money. I won't have to buy lunch because my stomach is too upset to eat. Why, you might ask? How could author websites do that?

Simple. On sites of two Agatha Award winning mystery writers, I found egregious grammar and usage errors my fifth-grade teacher would not have allowed to get by.

One author said she loved her writer's group because they were more picky than her family, who let all sorts of grammer (sic) errors slip through.

The other author wrote about her two dominate (sic) cats.

I didn't have the stomach, you should excuse the pun, for more. I had to stop to maintain my sanity and my breakfast where it was. But it had revealed to me how greatly the publishing industry still needs editors and copy editors. And why the American educational system has gone to hell in a handcart. How can anyone even propose to be a writer if they can't...you should excuse the boldness...write the English language with any degree of accuracy and skill?

I am appalled. I am, on the heels of all this, somewhat happy that I'm fairly old. I might get through this life before people stoop to grunting and pointing instead of verbally explaining what they mean.

Or maybe not. I saw a TV advert last night that was so vacuous--in England, land of extraordinarily well-produced TV spots compared to what the United States suffers through--that I feared for the continued existence of the race. Really. See for yourself:

Lame, no? Maybe advertising needs to get its cocaine mojo going, because its creativity quotient has sunk to new lows, along with its ability to use language to persuade. Nothing about this advert is visually persuasive, and the drab language...well, it is what I would expect from a fairly low-functioning fourth grader in terms of its "heehee" quotient.

I expect it won't be long before writing in books descends to the level of the advert above. That unhappy day may be hastened by the appearance of the Espresso Book Machine

Among other things, this machine may be the death knell of used book dealers; it can print, for ten bucks, an out-of-print, out-of-copyright title a used book dealer would sell for $47, apparently. Of course, whoever installed the 100-grand machine would have to have some darn good book traffic to make the machine pay. But it's coming. It's coming as surely as POD, once a gleam in publishers' eyes, came and via which Crash Course was produced. It is coming as surely as the end of paid journalism in the wake of the Internet and Wiki came.

I saw the Wiki phenomenon coming as far back as the early 1980s, when I bought my first computer. "Nicky," I said to myself, "It's time to change from journalism to fiction, because information is about to be free, but people will always pay for a good story." And I ignored it. Until now. Almost too late.

Or maybe it is too late. The population has been so dumbed down that they don't even require that the authors whose work they read actually know how to write in their native tongue.

But maybe there's a bright side. Maybe the current sad state of affairs opens a niche market: Mysteries for readers who are annoyed by lousy grammar, clumsy diction and malapropisms.

Nah. Even the category name is too long.

Never mind. I'll just keep working on Rat Bastards so it can join Crash Course on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk before amazon.anything is vanquished by the Espresso Book Machine. It's Gutenberg to the logical conclusion, I expect.

Next stop: Thought transfer, no writing required. Noooooooo.........

NB  The legend for the chart above suggests that no matter what one does, one is going to deal with futility and pointlessness on Twitter, leading no doubt to feelings of anomie and for all we know suicide. I know Twitter often makes hara kiri seem attractive to me!

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Dumbed down is right! It's that whole LOL thing and smily faces. It's computers, I think. Grammar stopped mattering. We might as well go back to hieroglyphics. Thank gawd that authors can shake us into some semblance of shame that we have butcheredour own language at the behest of the Farcebooks, the Tweets and the like. Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment should be in every school as mandatory reading.