Writing, writing, writing
I’m sure there is a song out there, that goes ‘riding, riding, riding’ but could I find it?
However to move away from the previous posts about language, I thought I would write about, um, writing.
Over on a writing blog, I read a guest interview where the author told people to learn grammar if they wanted to be a writer.
This probably jarred with me because over on ruftytuftyseas, I had a request from someone who wanted info about Gib so they could write an article. He is setting up as a freelance writer, although describes himself as a history and politics teacher.
And that sums it up in a nutshell. Everyone thinks they are the world’s next best-selling writer/journalist/author.
So can I spend some time telling him what I know about Gib in order for him to make money as a freelance. Sure. How much? Because I was caught once, spending five hours or so on a Sunday for absolutely nothing.
No, the rule now is, if you want something from me, that involves my knowledge, you pay. Animal charities are negotiable.
Seriously, I couldn’t believe the cheek. I want to pick your brains so I can write an article and get paid for it? OK, I did believe it, but asked how much.
No more free lunches here. [For anyone who hasn’t read the post about how I ended up being sick, and the promised free lunch was cancelled anyway is here].
Meanwhile back to the blog post I read, about how people should learn about grammar. There was a comparison between surgeons, mechanics and construction workers, and how they all knew their skill. Writers should be the same.
So would-be writers should browse around the internet a few times a week to learn grammar. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be too keen on either a surgeon, a builder or a mechanic relying on the odd internet browse to carry out their work. Without training.
‘I’ve looked up appendectomy on the internet, I think it goes like this.’
Two weeks later…
‘Gangrene. Need to open that one up again. Sorry and all that.’
Trust me, that happens. It happened to me 40 something years ago. Before the internet.
So not really a valid comparison.
Writing is not going to lead to bodged operations, housing disasters (eg Aberfan in Wales) or vehicle problems.
It may well lead to lawsuits, which in these days is potentially worse, because that costs money.
Doctors, mechanics and tradespeople in the construction industry do actually spend some time learning their skills.
My partner had a five-year apprenticeship, went to college, learned on the job. At college they learned practice and theory. He passed exams.
I had a much shorter apprenticeship. I also went to college, learned practice and theory, and passed exams.
Years ago, all this was run very sensibly and thoroughly by the Joint Industry Training Boards. His was construction, mine was print and publishing.
Another good blog post I read talked about paint falling off. Paint falls off for a number of reasons.
1) You have bought the wrong paint for the job
2) You have bought cheap crappy paint
3) You haven’t prepared and sealed the surface properly
4) You don’t know what you are doing
5) You are too tight to pay a professional painter who knows what s/he is doing
because after all, anyone can slop on a coat of paint, yes?
It’s ironic that my partner and I ended up in similar jobs. For those of you into star signs we are both the same, given that our birthdays are on consecutive days.
But, we both carried out our apprenticeships, in craft trades. Ones that everyone else thinks are easy to do and don’t need to pay for. Everyone can write and everyone can paint.
That’s why our block is currently better decorated than it has ever been since we moved in, why there is a noticeboard informing people about on-going work, and why our board papers let everyone know how and where the money is being spent.
Sure, everyone can do that as well as writing fiction, journalism, travel articles and cookery books (don’t even start me on the cookery one).
To me the issue of advice, is not to encourage amateur writers, rather to say, that unless you have something original to say (unlikely) or can say it very well, don’t bother. Because otherwise you are wasting your money employing people to edit and publish your books. Or your articles. Or whatever.
I read a lot of different blogs. They include fiction, poetry, travel, political and personal. How many of those do I think write well enough to even consider paying any of them to write? It’s in single figures.
Blogging has spawned a whole new world of would-be writers, of which most are, um, crap at the best.
The best bloggers are the ones who are not looking for fame and glory, who write interesting posts.
I haven’t published as a fiction writer or a cookery writer (thank goodness). I have achieved travel articles, news journalism, corporate publishing, publicity material and much more etc etc.
I wouldn’t encourage people to write when they can’t tell their it’s from their its. Even I get it wrong on screen.
I think to encourage people that they can really get their work published and earn money is deluding them at best, more likely trying to get money out of them for tidying up those really tacky drafts. I’ll do that 🙂 But I can’t in all conscience look at something and say, this is good, just needs a few tweaks. I’d end up re-writing it, and believe me, I have done that loads of times.
So people, life is not so simple as to give up the office job and earn a living from the computer, and dabble around to find out what a dangling participle is and a misplaced modifier is. [Terms used on how to write good grammar blog post]
Quite frankly, I have no idea about either, and I think getting hung up on such terms is ridiculous. Learn spelling, basic punctuation, and simple active sentences is far better advice. Well, it’s my advice, so it must be better.
If you can’t write or spell, then maybe you don’t have a promising career ahead of you as a writer.
And if you don’t know your alkali-resisting primer from your undercoat, you may have problems with your paintwork.