Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Old Posts, New Comments

“Human nature is eternal. Therefore, one who follows his nature keeps his original nature in the end.”

“The Lady from Shangai”, directed by Orson Welles

While chasing down an old link to include in a recent post, I stumbled across a relatively new message in the comments section. Such comments come as a welcome surprise, it being gratifying to find new readers still discovering this blog and exploring the archives* -- and when such a comment is positive, so much the better. Still, it seems slightly odd that new readers would bother to comment on a six month old post. Perhaps this is the digital equivalent of the old “Kilroy was here” scrawled on walls in those innocent times before spray cans and graffiti “artists” emerged from the cultural compost pile to deface buildings and public spaces in every American city**

This particular comment was a mixed bag: positive, but carrying a familiar message of constructive criticism. Still, I’d never heard it put quite this way, with both message and medium melded into one.

“enjoyed your prose,
like it more if it was
short like a haiku.”

That’s right, a haiku, compact and concise by nature, declaring that the post was worth reading, but too long.

Ah yes, that again – tell me something I don’t already know. Yes, I write long. Too long, most of the time, and occasionally (as anybody who tried to wade through several recent posts can attest) waaaaay too long. I can explain – oh could I explain... churning out paragraph after endless fracking paragraph that would put you all deep into REM sleep - but a certain longwindedness at the keyboard seems to be in my nature. Why use ten words when thirty more are sitting there on the bench just itching to get into the game? "Kill your babies" might the first rule of the Writer's Ten Commandments, but I find it hard to be so ruthless. As the estimable Tim Goodman replied after reviewing my one and only paid submission to his newspaper: “You’re one wordy MF, my friend. Just like me."

I took this as high praise at the time, but perhaps that was a mistake.

Pithy, I am not. You'll just have to trust me that I don't actually set out to write such rambling, unwieldy tomes in these posts -- quite the opposite -- but all too often a post gets away from me, leaps the fence, and is gone with the digital wind.

One who follows his nature, keeps his original nature in the end...

Maybe it’s time to give it another try. Like the punch-drunk boxer climbing back off the mat to take another beating -- or the hopelessly addicted smoker trying to quit those infernal cancer-sticks one last time -- I’ll make an honest attempt to tighten up future offerings in this space, and thus follow Strunk and White's timeless advice: “Omit needless words.”

I’d be tempted to try “tweeting” for the iron discipline enforced by that 140 character limit, but being past a certain age, can’t help regarding “Twitter” with the sneering contempt that comes from being old and utterly out of it. I’ll stick to a real keyboard, thankyouverymuch, and leave such bright and shiny digital baubles to a younger generation that seems born to the modern art of thumb-talking.

Write shorter? I’ll try, gentle readers, I’ll try. That’s all I can promise.

* Although it was the unknown person who left those eighteen “comments” after one old post -- which were actually links to some commercial porn site – who drove me to activate the comments verification feature of this blog...

** Clarification: I appreciate the clever, visually complex murals created by the best of these artists, whether their work is legally sanctioned or not, but have no patience for the low-life cretins who simply spray their name and/or gang affiliation on every unguarded wall, window, and street sign. This isn’t a valid form of self-expression IMHO, but behavior akin to that of of dogs marking their local fire hydrants. Dogs have a good excuse -- they're animals running on instinct -- but I expect better from humans. In that, however, I am often disappointed.


Suzanne said...

While your blog posts are indeed luxuriously lengthy and densely packed with an abundance of wandering words, you have such a way with them. Your blog is a delightful read so don't pull back on the reins too much. Keep getting carried away. It always seems to lead someplace interesting. I might be prejudiced though, I am a fellow long-winded writer and intend to steal your clever comment about the thirty words sitting on the bench just itching to get into the game the next time anybody complains about my propensity to go on and on. And on.

Michael Taylor said...

Suzanne --

Thanks for the vote of confidence. Glad to hear you've been enjoying the ride, however meandering it may be. I suspect that since this blog remains a labor of love (although I do receive the blogger's standard rate of zero cents per word), my attempts to tighten things up won't cut into any muscle, much less the bone. That may mean more two-part posts, if necessary (and when justified), but the goal is to bring each one in at around eight hundred words. Realistically (given my well documented propensities), that probably means I'll consider anything under a thousand to be a success -- and hopefully, so will most readers...

Art DepartMENTAL said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with lengthy posts as long as you are passionate about your subject, have something to say, and remain on point. You have all three. I enjoy your writing as I'm sure many others do. Your blog wouldn't be as successful as it is if it weren't for your gloriously wordy posts. F*&$ the haters and write to your hearts content. :)

Anonymous said...

I second (third?) the above. It's tremendously exciting to load up the page and see all those words stretching down below me, waiting to be explored.

It's not worth reading if you can't get lost within it. We need more words, not less!