Writing so messy my own wife wanted to stop reading.

Emperor Joseph II: My dear young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes. That’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.

Mozart: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?

~ Peter Shaffer, Amadeus

I recently decided that my posts on this blog are too long, and that I am spending too much time on them. It’s said that overly long posts bore everyone to tears. Is this true? It must be, if it is being said.

And if it’s true, I’m not interested (or at least should not be) in writing them. So I made a resolution to keep my posts under 1000 words. Then I started writing about a movie I’d just gone to see.

blog-length-smlI glanced at the word count throughout. It kept going up. It was as if every word I typed made it go higher. At some point near the end, but not quite there yet, I hit 1,500.

Very discouraging. Not only was my draft far too long, it was a mess. The spelling was good and the sentences were grammatically correct, but the whole thing just felt out of alignment with itself.

So before I posted, I interrupted my wife while she was watching television and asked her to read it. My wife never reads this stuff unless I ask. When I ask, it’s only because I feel I’m about to make a mistake. She usually understands that if I’m asking, I must be in trouble, and that her job is to confirm whether I’m about to make a mistake, and to tell me not to make it.

I took the dog for a walk while she read it. When I came back, she was back in front of the television again. She said the beginning had hooked her, the middle had lost her, and she probably would have stopped reading if she weren’t my wife.

Ironic, because I was writing about why I’d walked out on the movie.

So I didn’t post it.

This post was originally 470 words. I slashed it down to 341. I puffed it back up to 405. I cut back to 389.

I piddled some more, then clicked publish. At 405 again.

What am I going to do with that other batch of 1,500 words, though? They’re perfectly good words. The problem was in how I used them.

 

Amadeus image: sundayisforlovers.wordpress.com Word count image: dejanseo.com.au

 

25 thoughts on “Writing so messy my own wife wanted to stop reading.

  1. Is that really true in every case? If the writing is good, I’m happy if there’s more to it. Succinct is great if that’s what a post calls for, but short for the sake of short might be a disservice to your topic sometimes.

    – Kit

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    • I agree, Kit. It’s case by case, and sometimes longer is the right way to go. With my perfectionist tendencies, it takes me too long to get 1500 words right. I’d rather put that time towards a novel. Other people who are more efficient might rattle off 1500 fantastic words in no time. I envy them!

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  2. I’m pretty sure I ramble too much for succinctness…. Though, if I were going for fantastic words (and if I took the time and energy to make them fantastic words) perhaps I would have shorter posts myself?
    “They’re perfectly good words. The problem was in how I used them.” LOVE that line.

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    • No, rambling and succintness usually do not go hand in hand. But the thing about rambling is you never know where it will take you. Which means a good ramble can be something very special.

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  3. Walt,
    I so relate. New to the blogging medium, word count is yet another decision to be made for me. I’ve decided to keep them short and see how people respond, how I respond.
    So far, I’ve responded well to my decision! We’ll see about everybody else.
    (Ah, “Amadeus” was such a favorite movie of mine. It was fun to think of it again reading your post. But the last I saw it was about 15 years ago. If nothing else, the movie taught me that artists can appear flaky and strange to others – which explained me and a lot of my life – and that that was OK. In fact, embrace it.)
    Great post,
    Mike

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    • Thanks, Mike. Yes, I’m going to try to stay short(er) for now too and see how it goes. I don’t know how that will work out. I usually need to feel like I’ve fully explored my topic, or at least said all I want to say, and I won’t be able to do that with short posts. There’s no way my History of Metallica post could have been any shorter than it was. I even omitted some things I didn’t want to omit. Oh well. If people don’t have the time or the patience for longer posts, there’s no point in writing them. Not for a blog, anyway.

      Amadeus is one of my top five favorite films. I related more with Salieri, the one who wanted to be a great artist but found himself falling short in comparison to superior talents.

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  4. Well, hooked the whole way through on this one and loved the quote on Mozart! I’ve heard a slightly different version.

    Emperor: Too many notes!
    Mozart: Just the right number your majesty!

    He was definitely a pert dude. And it didn’t serve him well always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, that quote is from the same scene. I almost chose that one instead. I wonder if it it really came to him as it was portrayed in the movie, as if he were really just taking dictation.

      Do you actually create all the music for the PL videos? That’s quite impressive, very good stuff.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m afraid I actually haven’t seen the movie, so I wouldn’t know… I suppose I better put it on my list.

        Why thank you! Yes, I write most of it (except for a few action cues that the production pulls out of sound libraries). Can’t be bothered with such stuff. 😉

        Not at all. I enjoy your witty writing style. And your dry sense of humor never fails to make me chuckle.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, if you haven’t seen the movie, you have to put it at the top of your to-do list. It’s a must-see for any artist, but especially for a musician. Don’t jack around with this, though. I mean that most sincerely, and what I mean is that you must block out 180 minutes or so of uninterrupted time to sit down and watch the thing from beginning to end. Don’t watch it piece-meal, or while multi-tasking. Put your phone down. Lock the doors of the basement, or your man-cave, or put the head-phones on or whatever, and immerse yourself in the thing. It’s great story-telling first and foremost (although not necessarily historically accurate), great acting, great writing, great music, and a great take on the creative calling, from two very different perspectives. Go do this right now, if you don’t mind too much.

        I expect a full report on my desk by morning. Go.

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  5. I will trade all worries for the fecking plugged toilet I have been plunging all morning, keeping me from writing. I rarely complain, watch the news in Canada for “Odd person shoots Toilet”.

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    • Don’t shoot the toilet, Odd person. I will watch the news for news of “Odd person chooses patience over toilet rampage.” I myself recently had a clogged toilet. It took the better part of three days worth of plunging, and patience, and patiently plunging, to get the thing to concede. I’ve yet to meet a household toilet that couldn’t be beaten with a bit of time and patience and persistent plunging. Now, out there in the public is another thing. Lord knows what kind of diaper, t-shirt, or car part some folk will try to flush down the toilet of your place of business. I’m assuming you’ve got your home portal relatively well secured, though. Stay the course, Worzel. The end is nigh.

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