Search engine optimize this

•May 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, whadda ya know, it’s been more than a month since I blogged. Oops. Thesis and all.

But what better way to make my glorious return to the world of blogging than with a super-meta post about writing!?

Whee!!!

So, here’s the thing: I don’t come to where you work and say, “I could fry fries better than that.” Or, “I could totes fer sure organize books according to the Dewey Decimal System better than that.” So why do so many people walk up to me, maybe make fun of me making my living as a freelance writer for a few minutes, and then ask me if I can show them the light and get them a job in freelancing?

Freelancing is not easy. It is not always fun. I make money writing now because I’ve put the effort into writing for years. I’ve been making money off of writing now in one way or another for more than four years, and I’ve done this in a number of capacities. I got my first professional writing job because I had volunteer writing and editing experience, giving me a big portfolio to show my employer.

Just like everyone who’s ever slowly climbed up a job ladder, I, too, as a writer, have paid my dues, and now I’m collecting my paychecks by routinely turning out various kinds of material that gets picked up.

Let’s start with one of the most basic parts of my job: SEO writing is a skill. I have it. Do you? If so, go use it. If you don’t, stop looking at me as though my job consisted of listening to NPR podcasts while scratching my back. I have a real job, so stop asking me when I’m going to find one, and please, please stop thinking you could do what I do with just fifteen spare minutes a day.

Somehow, I am continually amazed that there is no limit to the people who think they should be privileged to do my job just because I have it and they want it. If you really think you’re smarter and more qualified to write than me, why aren’t you doing it? I am, in fact, by and large a web-based writer, and I find my jobs the same way you should: by Googling it. Really, you should be using your larger intelligence and advanced skills to figure out that writing jobs don’t fall out of the heavens like manna. You find them, you apply for them, you give employers examples of your work, you hope to get hired, and then, if you do, you interact with them to create content that’s up to their standards, and then you get paid for your time.

Freelance writing is kind of like spending most of your time on a set of monkey bars, the next ring of which is rarely in view. And I’ve spent the last four years of my life feeling my way around those monkey bars – have you? Again, please, if you think you could do my job better than me, take that information and put it where it counts: on the competitive, open writers’ market.

To err is human…

•April 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice – ChronicleReview.com.

I admit that, once, as the editor of two different publications, I would sanctimoniously distribute copies of The Elements of Style to writers whom I believed just didn’t quite get it.

How? I don’t remember. More than likely they were making some mistakes most educated people could agree on, but I am willing to submit that a few of them simply weren’t bowing down to some of my/Strunk’s/White’s writing hobby horses.

As the author of the above article establishes admirably, Strunk and White didn’t know what they were talking about. Not even kind of. Moreover, they broke most of their own rules on any number of occasions.

Worse, though, is really that their rules are not based in reality. The teaching of English has so little to do with the actual English language that’s a wonder that there are writers who can overcome their own graphophobia and produce interesting literature. Teachers of English have all learned a schizophrenic system of pseudo-rules that they gleaned from the often inconsistent, railing standards of their own teachers, most of whom have no more than a knowledge that a field called linguistics exists.

The wisest of prescriptivists have surmised correctly that if the writing (and speaking) of English is not cluttered up with senseless rules, based at best on analogy to languages that are not even related to English, that their jobs would disappear. If you can’t gesticulate wildly and tell people that you can’t split infinitives because Latin never split infinitives, what are you good for?

Of course, we don’t bother telling children (or educating them in Latin) that Latin infinitives do not split because they consisted of only one word. True, you can’t split one word. What does that have to do with English, whose infinitives are not one, but two words?

I remember once that a friend shared with me the following situation: he was in an English class (wherein the students happened to be reading Shakespeare, though I don’t remember what precisely) and the teacher queried who was to read next. My friend responded: “It is I.” The class erupted into laughter, pointing out that my friend, the teacher’s pet, couldn’t even point out it was his turn gramatically. The teacher then went on a five minute rant about how my friend was indeed correct in his phraseology, and that, since no action was committed on his person, there was no grammatical option other than his.

This is patently untrue, and the other students’ laughter makes this clear. The vast preponderance of English-speakers would have said in that situation: “It’s me.” It’s called the oblique, and we got it from French (“c’est moi”, never “c’est je”). Languages which have no case system come up against such challenges, but, somehow, most speakers learn and intuit what to do in potentially confusing situations like this. Simply put, if it doesn’t hamper communication and everyone agrees on the form, you can’t and, I posit, shouldn’t, try to change it with rules based on false analogy.

Lastly, a word or two for the passive voice. Clearly, Strunk and White didn’t even know what it was. Here’s some news you may have missed out on while English teachers were throwing red pens like darts at you: English forms a truly vast number of adjectives in the same way it does past passive participles. This does not make those adjectives into past passive participles – they just look like them.

Moreover, if every action were to have an agent, there would be no questions left unanswered, and no variability at all in English prose. Use the passive if it feels right, that is, if your prose would otherwise be cluttered without it. Just because a scary man with a tight face and a publisher waves his finger in your face and castigates you, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong.

OMG: business fail, homophobia-style

•April 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Gay Lit Too ‘Adult’ for Amazon.com / Queerty.

As noted by some, the grossest part is that books about ‘curing’ or preventing homosexuality top Amazon searches for the topic in light of this new *ahem* policy shift.

21st-century FAIL.

Bad reporting award of the MONTH!

•March 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Michelle Obama and Rachele Mussolini – Pravda.Ru.

In case you were unaware, you, your grandmother Betty, and everyone who has ever planted a vegetable garden is a fascist, and, moreover, is married to a fascist dictator.

Shocked? Me, too. Thanks for enlightening us, though, Hans Vogel. And now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to go invade something and censor the airwaves.

[In Comic-Book Guy voice: “Worst. Reporting. Ever.”]

Economy ruining our health, lives

•March 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Drudge Report writes of a governmental website going live tonight that will inform people of the emotional and physical dangers of going batshit crazy under current economic conditions.

Also, introduction to this week’s episode of “This American Life” contains anecdotal evidence that the economy is making us grind our teeth right out of our heads.

So enjoy that tight feeling in your jaw and try not to off yourself!

Wow, it’s another scam!

•March 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Please make sure to send some angry, invective-filled letters to oksanahwf59@gmail.com, who is shilling for a scam website.

“Oksana Halifax <oksanahwf59@gmail.com> to —
2:27pm

Thanks for messaging me back so quick.  I moved out to the area and I
recently met a few people who have had a rough time finding work.  I
met a man named Nicholas who gets help just for applying for jobs.  He
has a helpblog that shows how he has got out of debt you should check
it out. Last month I got $578 just for trying to find a job. Check out
http://getrichlikemeonline.com/

oksanahwf59″

Remember folks, that’s oksanahwf59@gmail.com. Why don’t you go ahead and let her know what you think of people who do this for a living?

Kate Clinton swallowed whole by intertubes

•March 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

YouTube – Green Day.

THE PROBLEM WITH THE INTERTUBES is as follows: in fifty years when some kid is writing her dissertation about really awesome third-wavey feminist types like Kate Clinton, she’s going to stumble across this video of said Kate Clinton pretending to be still kind of drunk from St. Patrick’s day and all around making an ass of herself.

If video were still this really cutting-edge, expensive thing that involved a whole bunch of people making something look just write, everyone who was ever on film would sure as Hell have a script, and, moreover, one that had been checked for quality-control purposes.

IN SUMMUM, the internet can make you look like a total dbag, no matter how awesome you might be when you give yourself a little time and space to self-edit.

[Post scriptum: Kate, you also need new political material. Really, really badly.]