42-40: The countdown continues to the biggest blunders
We are still at the trivial end: But the path to enlightenment starts with a few steps. I think my Dad said this to me after watching Kung Foo. At the start of the programme it would often amuse him to pretend to be the moral martial arts itinerant clutching the kettle between his forearms, then falling to the snow (carpet!) to cool the newly acquired fiery hot dragon tattoos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQBVYko_uhQ −So let us all attempt to clutch the pebble from Master Po’s grasp and venture onward.
42. Myself? If word points out a mistake it normally is, but not always! One that I have been asked, more by younger people is why ‘myself’ has a blue wavy line underneath, the sentence reads fine. It is suggesting a possible unintentional error that is grammatically incorrect as you only use ‘myself’ if you have referred to yourself previously in the same sentence. There are advanced settings in word: review, spelling & grammar for various aspects that will take your work to greater literary levels.
41. Mixing up of word meanings. These are words that sound almost the same but differ in their actual meaning. From last week I talked about capitals, which are very different to state and administrative centres−capitols. There is no such word as grammer−Kelsey Grammer may disagree, just don’t use it, people will laugh at you or take pity. People often get affect: to produce a change in something, and, effect: the result of something or the ability to bring about change mixed up, especially in Science experiments (and Climate Change Deniers).
Here’s a cultural one: enquiry/inquiry. Americans tend to use the latter for both meanings, but in Britain you enquire about someone’s health and you have a political/legal/medical inquiry into a riot/bodged trial/unexpected death. Most times the American inquiry is probably better, but not if you are ‘enquiring at an inquiry’−which might lead to a comedic mix-up, that could well appear in a P G Woodhouse book.
Ones I have actually seen are disdain (haughty dislike) and distain (discolour, sully). Perspective (point of view), and prospective (likely to happen in the future). Farther (physical distance) and further (non-physical distance). Accept (willingly take) and except (without something). While/whilst, if in doubt don’t use whilst it’s old fashioned and no one will notice. There are lots of others: practise/practice, advise/advice, but if in doubt look them up. The following site us useful: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/commonly-confused-words
40. Not joining a Writers’ Group: In my opinion more important than going on a Writers’ Retreat or two day creative writing course. These will help you, and every little helps, but the memory and knowledge will fade fast in our busy lives’. It may feel as though it’s enough, but being a good writer is about dedication and consistency. There are also many books and videos about the craft that will do the same job much cheaper, but you might not get a suntan! What a Writers’ Group allows you to do is test out your work constantly with critical friends, not once every year or few years. You not only need the benevolent critics, you need the incentive to complete the next part/chapter of your work−they will spur you on. It is often hard to drag yourself out after you have done a full day of toiling at work, but it is paramount to carry on along the road to enlightenment, well, completion anyway. You are gleaning knowledge and information that you may well otherwise not stumbled across. This goes back to what I said about research; members will highlight important mistakes you have missed like; clarity, repetition, too much telling not enough showing and also point you towards authors and books that it would be useful to look at−it will also be much easier to edit your work if you are getting it somewhere near the first time round.
Hanif Kureishi recently sported debate by stating that creative writing cannot be taught, creativity is very difficult to teach and the more our cultures and education systems move away from the arts to the commercial/scientific/academic it may become even harder. But certain skills can be taught and as Theodore Roosevelt said, “Believe you can and you’re half the way there.” Well, if you believe and you gather some skills and knowledge as well, you’re more than half the way there… You’re nearer the end than the beginning.
Keep believing and one day you will grab the pebble from Master Po’s hand and hear the grasshopper at your feet thinking!
Until next time I will leave you with the sound of one hand clapping!
Ian M Pindar’s latest books, under his real name are: ‘Hoofing It’ and ‘Hoofed,’ the first and second novels in The Robert Knight Series and are on special offer. He has another three novels out this year.