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Lousy Writer

© May 2004 Tony Lawrence

I had some email yesterday. Once sentence, direct and to the point: "You are a lousy writer."

Actually, I'm not sure it technically was a sentence - I think the "y" of "you" was lower case, and I am not sure there was a period at the end. The point was plain enough, though.

Considering that I have seven best-sellers and have been twice nomnated for the Pulitzer prize in Literature - oh, wait, that wasn't me. Sorry, got a little confused for a minute there..

As the intent of this web-site isn't gripping prose, my first reaction was "So what?" and that was only muttered as the Delete key caused this message to join the Vi*gra V-codin You Have a Date! posts. Do I care that some reader found my writing so revolting that he or she had to tell me?

Well, yes and no. This is a tech site, primarily serving technical information, with a little opinion and other fluff tossed in. I don't feel that articles here need to meet a very high standard for literature. I do agree that I'm careless with spelling, punctuation, and over use of certain words. I didn't think that my compository sins were so severe as to interfere with the delivery of information, but perhaps I am wrong.

Naaw. That person needs to get a life.

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Actually, I think Tony writes very well. Much better than I do, in fact. Technology writing can sometimes be very dry, and Tony seems to choose words that add some life to a subject, and he usually incorporates some real life examples with good humor. I wouldn't worry too much about that email :-)

- Bruce Garlock

I won't. But it will make me perhaps a wee bit more careful :-)

But the reason most tech writing is dry is because of editors and fearful bosses. I have done some writing for magazines, and while I've never had my grammar corrected, and have had only minor brushes with the Punctuation Police, the editors don't seem to like humor. I managed to get away with a little, but I bet if I worked for a company and my boss and his boss etc. were also approving the work, none of it would have survived.

If you read LJ, you've seen people complaining about the "Linux Chef" articles (I forget what the actual title is just now). The reason isn't the tech content; they didn't like the lighthearted vein.

So many folks in desperate need of a real life, aren't there?


"I didn't think that my compository sins were so severe as to interfere with the delivery of information, but perhaps I am wrong."

Considering some of the printed rubbish I have seen while cruising around the 'Net, I'd have to say your writing is well above egareva...oops...average. Sometimes I feel like being the language ecilop...darn...er...police and taking someone to task for grammatical gaffes or spelling goofs. However, my aim on the peeboard...oops...keyboard isn't always all that good, so who am I to ezicitirc..er...criticize. Sorry for the aixelsyd...oops, I mean dyslexia!

It has long been postulated that placing enough chimps (or other primates -- I personally like gorillas) at enough typewriters will result in the reproduction of Shakespeare's works. Judging by what I've read to date on the Web, the Bard's writings are in no danger of being challenged.

As for taking a lighter approach, if I want seriousness I'll sit in on a White House news conference when they're trying to explain why all our troops are getting maimed and killed while "liberating" Iraq.


Gorillas can be tough on keyboards.


"Gorillas can be tough on keyboards."

No tougher than my clients with their 5 gallon cups of Coke or Pepsi -- not to mention their sledge hammer typing style. I actually keep a new keyboard and mouse in my car at all times, knowing that they won't stay there for long.


Now I'm not sure whether this was spam or just some nutcase: I got a similar email saying "Kill the author of this article". I noticed this one had attachments (not opened), so possibly the other one did too.


In "Hamlet," the author said kill all the lawyers. Score one point for authors.



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