Jun
2010

“Beware of Dog”

My grammar is far from perfect, but I am not running for office. This week in the state of Maine we have an open primary election. Our current Governor has served two terms and is done. Leaving the field wide open. We have four democrats and a seven republicans running for office. The primary vote is Tuesday.

I am a registered independent, and I try to keep my political feelings private. I worry about the credibility of my work if viewers knew which side of an issue I was on. The majority of my newsroom feels the same way. Many of us don’t even know each others political positions.

My girlfriend is a (proud) registered democrat. She is looking forward to voting on Tuesday, and she considers herself to be an informed voter. On this rainy Sunday, she has settled in to do her research on each candidate. To her surprise, she discovered typos on each of the candidates websites.

As politicians your websites are going to be filled with jargon on why you’re the best and why your plans are great, but how can we trust you to fix our state if you either don’t proofread your own stuff or at least have someone else look over it?

Most of the errors are small and could be considered nit-picking. The one that stand out is from Libby Mitchell, her site says “people came to Maine because of its tree, fish, rivers, fertile land, and beautiful landscapes.”
It’s not a big deal, but we are “The Pine Tree State.”

Here is a small one from Pat McGowan’s site:
“Jill and Jolene McGowan own and operate successful women’s clothing design and manufacturing business in southern Maine with national and international clientele.”
It could be argued that this one is fine. In my house we felt two ways about it. My girlfriend felt the word “business” need to be plural, and I felt that there needed to be an “a” before the word successful. Neither of us know if there is more than one business.

I have met every single candidate and they are all lovely people. Each one is passionate about Maine and has a plan for Maine’s future, but right or wrong minor mistakes like these can make or break how a voter is going to vote.

If I, a grad student, can be worried about each word on my blog, then as the leaders of our state you can find the time to fix this issue (obviously before you tackle the big ones).

May
2010

Writing Quirks

I like the feel of a good keyboard under my fingertips. If the keyboard doesn’t feel right to my fingers as I put word to screen, my hands seem to cramp up. I know the cramps are all in my mind, but just shaking my fingers about while mouthing a funny noise does tend to make me feel better. This didn’t always used to be a problem for me. I only really noticed it since starting in the ICM program.

I love my keyboard at work. The buttons have a good give to them, but not too hard. The thing is though, I hate writing at work, mostly because I hate my work computer. I am a Mac guy and my work computer is a PC. I love writing on a Mac, not sure why though. Is it the dream that my writing will be better if performed on a Mac? I don’t know. I also can’t concentrate at work. Even the stories I write for work, I need to do at home. Between the noise of my co-workers and someone always needing me for some reason, I just can’t focus at work. As soon as I have a good thought, BOOM, someone interrupts me with some kind of crisis.

Back to my Mac though, I am writing this on my laptop. I love the laptop, I got it because of the ICM program. Before this I have always had iMacs. I have one in my closet and the other in my home office. I love my iMac, but I hate the keyboard. The buttons are too hard and they don’t respond well or quick enough. I am going to buy a new keyboard this summer, I have just decided.

The Mac has always had a simple little program called “text.” I love Text. It is a simple no-nonsense program that I do all my writing on. I have no idea what makes me love it so, but I do.

I like to have peace and quiet when I write. I need to be alone with my thoughts. Things like the wind blowing through an open window, or the leaves bouncing around in the front yard, I have no problem with. The radio blasting, or someone trying to talk to me while I write, leaves me frustrated and very cranky.

I also need to have a comfortable chair and the temperature needs to be just right. If I find myself too fidgety, I can’t get into gear to write well, if at all. I also find myself looking around a lot. I will stop… look up, and then continue. So I like to be in a room with a view or at least have some kind of visuals around me. Even a nice desktop picture will do the trick in inspiring me.

Sometimes I just close my eyes and silence my mind in order to let a phrase or word come to me. I often have a lot of trouble finding the right words to express myself in just the right way, so taking a moment to reflect is key. I usually have a lot to say, but find the trouble of typing it all out is far too time consuming. So many times I have wanted to just dictate words to screen, never works though.

If I find my mind has too many thoughts streaming together at once, I step away from the computer for a moment and go have a glass of milk or something.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I will wake up in the middle of the night, or have trouble falling asleep, because I have just thought of a great line or paragraph that I want to use. So I get up, fire up the computer, and bang out those words real quick, and before I know it, I have written far more than I had intended to at 2am. I have tried to ignore those urges, but come morning, I find myself never remembering what I was trying to say.

I have a horrible time with run-on sentences, and often try to use fragments too much. I am bad at grammar, and try too often to use words that I don’t fully understand.

So those are my writing quirks. Other than running my fingers through my hair, to help me think, or sometimes craving very specific tea, that is how I manage to write.