Monday, November 24, 2008

Leaving the Bay Behind

I feel guilty. For the past eight or nine or eighteen hours, I have sat in on my brother's couch curled beneath a mountain of sleeping bags. I promised myself that I would leave Saturday to climb in Bishop. Then Sunday came and I did not leave. It is Monday night and I am cuddling with Ninja Mind Control by Ashida Kim, The Game by Neil Strauss, and my cell phone, which has been busy texting girls all day. I rock climb more than I work; I am a semi-professional rock climber. By sitting on the couch and not heading to the boulders, I am neglecting my work. I am getting fatter and lazier every time I read one of Neil Strauss's sentences. Shoot me now.

I have not hung out much in Bishop, though it is one of the most popular climbing areas around and I feel the same sort of guilt about not having climbed there as I do about curling up in my bed of down. There's so much I should be doing right now that I am not. I should write more, climb more, uh...Okay, I guess the list of things I should be doing is short but it's very important and very hard to get good at. One of the things I need to improve in my writing is my ability to write longer sentences. Writing concisely is important. Using a minimum of words helps the reader; it causes less confusion. At the same time, prose needs some length to spice up things between the short sentences. Here's an example:
The cat is red. The cat is dead. We are sad.
Having three short sentences in a row is too much. It reads weird. Better would be:
It saddened us to see the cat covered in blood. The cat is dead.
The latter example gives the last sentence more weight.
These are poor examples. I have been reading the Elements of Style by E B White and Frank Strunk. I reread the book occasionally and it always amazes me how much information is put in those 150 pages. I recommend reading it for a better explanation of how to express the sadness of seeing a red, dead, cat.


J V said...

have you figured out how to use the charts in that book yet?

James said...

What charts? In Elements of Style?