Monday, January 14, 2008

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe...

... she had so many words she didn't know what to do.

But the words are unruly, undisciplined, neglected and over-indulged by turns. Overpopulation leads to mediocrity, they squabble for attention they don't deserve, their constant silly chatter and bickering is driving me mad. Or else they disappear for whole days so I don't know where they are and worry about what's happened to them.

Behave! I shout, come to order! other people's words do, they're made to work, they pull their weight around the place, they look nice, have nice manners, express themselves well, get good reports at school ...

Yes, the words answer back insolently, but they're not poor like we are!

Something must be done, some order in the house. Draconian measures are called for, a barrier method, a strict statute of limitations. ( There you go again, the words jeer, more little brothers and sisters! You could have just said said 'limit'...)

It's like with tomato plants, limit to three trusses per plant, ( The words snigger and nudge and poke fun at the hapless word 'truss' ), or all you have are a whole lot of undersized, underripe tomatoes.

I was round at Clare's the other day, now her words are so lovely! (The words pout and sulk, small-minded envy and jealousy being prevalent in this household, always worrying about what someone else has got that you haven't...). She manages her words so well she's even set up a new blog, where she writes just thirty a day about a regular walk that she does. Over-reaching broodiness nibbled at me, could I run to that as well? But I know really I shouldn't, it would be irresponsible and would overburden yet further the kind people who take an interest.

But that could be the solution, just thirty words a day, only thirty of you allowed, or less. The words try to push their luck, thirty, they whine, only thirty? We'll never manage! Fifty, go on, make it fifty!

I waver momentarily, but stand firm. No, I say, thirty, and no arguing. Consider yourselves lucky I don't make it a haiku!

So the new regime starts tomorrow. No limit on photographs, the title doesn't count, neither do comments I make, here or elsewhere, and perhaps I'll exempt hyperlinks, as they are at least working for a living and doing someone else a service. If it's less than thirty, better still, and some days I may not post at all. I don't know how long it will last, but may be a way out of the dissatisfied doldrums and time-wasting I find myself in.

19 comments:

Rosie said...

ooh what self control! I bet you spend exactly the same amount of time on fewer words because you will be agonising about which ones to choose...It is an interesting thought that you consider less than 30 words even better, like concentrating the meaning in poetry, will it improve in an infinite curve approaching zero?

Clare said...

Thanks for picking up the idea -- when wordsmithy people like you say kind things about what I do, it's huge boost.

I picked 30 and a walk round the park because I'd be a total loser to fail at that... Also, I thought it wouldn't be much of an imposition on readers.

It's amazing how quickly you find that you know as you write how many words you have left of your 30.

zhoen said...

I did a one hundred word a day month, sometimes handrails are helpful.

Tall Girl said...

yeah, but please don't be violent with them. You seem to be smacking them down without cause. Like telling yourself to shut up. I don't want you to.

herhimnbryn said...

(0)

jzr said...

Be kind to yourself, Lucy!!

julie said...

Indeed, we don't want you to shut up! I do often find, though, that setting one or two simple rules for myself and sticking to them helps me to accomplish more, at times when my scatterbrained-ness keeps me from getting anything done (let alone the everything I think I want to do all at once).

Lucy said...

Thanks all, but really, it's not quite as brutal as it sounds!

Rosie - yes, the agonising will probably happen, but there's no point in thinking you can get much in 30 words, so it's immediately self-limiting. I suppose in some strange and quasi-mystical way I do think it might be possible to reduce to the point of zero and thereby transcend the creative process, but I'm not planning it just now!

Clare, thanks for coming over, and being considered a 'wordsmithy person' by you is a huge compliment! The imposition on readers is an important factor, which was why I didn't do it on another blog, but I look forward to getting it down to a fine art like that.

Z - I remember, and though it was obviously too constraining quite quickly,they were satisfying mouthfuls, and as a reader I did like the way it was so easy to keep up with, but I wouldn't like to have seen you doing it permanently.

TG - yes, but it is only temporary, and in some ways I feel it's more like I'm giving them the attention they deserve. I just got so fed up with the formless drivel that I was wasting precious writing time on, the self-structuring process seemed to have broken down. Also I'm only limiting what I do here; the little darlings can frolic and disport themselves as much as they like in pen and paper and elsewhere, and I feel the more reflective, longer writing will have a chance to mature a bit in the break without the sense of obligation to blog it. And also. I am giving myself permission to blog every day, so in some ways less is more! But thanks for your compassion, and the same goes for JZR.

Julie, yes, that's something like it, spreading oneself too thin, perhaps.

Lucy said...

Oh yes, HHb, nice to see you out and about too!

Lesley said...

Your words have always seemed perfectly well-behaved to me.

leslee said...

Hey Lucy, it's your blog to do what you want with. Explore! I think inspiration, and satisfaction with blogging, just comes and goes like the weather, or the seasons maybe since stretches can feel ripe while others feel fallow. As for readers, you never know what people will respond to. Well, now I'm driveling. Enjoy coming here regardless.

Zephyr said...

i think specific exercises and a change of pace and pattern can be a very good thing. i look forward to reading and seeing the results.

meggie said...

I have been in that place. I recognize it.

But we don't see you being there. Well, I don't.
Each choice you make, seems somehow perfect to me.

Lucy said...

Lesley - I think I'd prefer it if they were a bit more riotous sometimes, but they just seemed to me to be being lazy little sel-staified slobs that seemed to be happy to proliferate endlessly without doing anything very worthwhile, so I've decided to make them work a bit harder!

Leslee - not at all are you driveling! It's true, and that's why it's good to ring the changes, and pare back sometimes.

Zephyr - thanks for the support, I am quite excited it, in fact!

Meggie - Thank you for being so lovely and encouraging, I suppose we all need to break out of our ruts sometimes!

Dave said...

Well, as a person occasionally given to prolixity myself, I do enjoy the 140-character limit of Twitter. I wish I'd known about "Once Around the Park" a little earlier, so I could've included it in the slide show I'm doing tonight on nature blogs. Clare's 30-word entries are just about the average length of a journal entry by her illustrious contryman, Gilbert White - whose journals are now being blogged. I guess what I find attractive as a reader (and writer) is not so much the brevity or lack thereof as it is the continued focus on a single place.

andy said...

Doh! I thought I'd left a comment earlier, but I must have clicked preview, not post...

Fwiw, one of the things I admire about your writing (and yes, there are several such!) is your easy facility with words; yours seem to flow so smoothly over and around the the everyday things of life, showing up form and colour that might otherwise pass us by.

Having said that though, my daughter just introduced me to the minimalist music of Steve Reich, and I have to say the 'less is more' approach does have somethng going for it. It's not the 'right' way though, just another way. Best of all is have both sets of tools in your writing toolkit - so do please treat this as a development exercise, not as a punishment!

Lucy said...

Dave -thanks for the link to Gilbert White, whom I haven't read since I were a nipper, and I'm glad you've acquainted yourself with Clare's blog. The rootedness of her blogs in where she is is one of their appeals, along with their freshness I think. Your prolixity is always to a worthwhile end, but I like the vitality of your 'morning porch' thing too.
Andy - what a nice, thoughtful comment, thank you. No really, it's no punishment, I did just feel I was getting out of kilter, taking too long over things, letting them go off the boil, getting a bit self-conscious, dwelling on the wrong things; this is perhaps something like a verbal de-tox!

marly said...

Ah, there's nothing like embarking on a new project, is there? Especially when one has such a lovely new notebook to take along on the voyage!

So bon voyage, Lucy--

[The above = 30 words in your honor.]

Granny J said...

Tending toward lazy terseness as I do, 30 words would be a real challenge. I've great appreciation for those like you, Lucy, who can manage their words quite well as they explore and taste ideas. Do alternate with other forms if you insist on such limits!