Thursday, April 8, 2010

Small Senses of Accomplishment

I love it when I get a few things done that I've been needing or wanting to do. Like, I picked up the dry cleaning today and it made me feel good inside. (It begs the question, "How mundane is your life that picking up dry cleaning gives you a little perk?" but you know what? I'll take it!) I took three full boxes to the recycling center and sorted it, and wished once again that we had pick-up for our recycling because of the somewhat grotesque smell of the bins. I dropped off an only-slightly overdue library book. I met my Mom for lunch and a couple hours of girl time. I left a list of small chores for my kids to do so the house would be neat and tidy when I came home. And I listened to more of "On Writing" by Stephen King.

Something he said threw me like I never expected to be thrown. I almost replayed the sentence because I just couldn't believe it the first time. I let it sink in, and felt uncomfortable with myself as a writer. Stephen King, one of my personal heroes, said:

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs."

It was enough to make me want to pull over to the side of the road and sit in shock, or weep a bit. I love adverbs. LOVE them. I'd go so far as to say that I could possibly (adverb) be addicted to anything that ends in -ly. I'm pretty (adverb) certain that if I went back through the course of my writing since fourth grade, I would find that I grossly (adverb) overuse adverbs. (Any of you that actually (adverb) knows what an adverb is might spend the next half hour poring over several of my blogs to see the frequency with which I use them. STOP IT!)

I'm a big believer in the active form of verb usage as opposed to the passive form. "The book was carried to the shelf by Frank" just sounds awkward, clunky, out-of-place. "Frank carried the book to the shelf" makes you feel as if someone is doing something, instead of something is happening to something. I don't know if I'm just more anal than I thought I was and these things annoy me because I both majored in and taught English at both the high school and college levels, but they do annoy me. But I'm a huge fan of adverbs. I wonder if there's a part of me that hides behind them. As if I cannot think of a strong enough verb, so I just hide my weak verb behind a creative adverb. I thought that was a good thing up until now. Now I think I'm less skilled than I previously believed. (Previously is an adverb. Grrrrr.)

It's not that he suggest adverbs are a bad thing in general. He likened them to dandelions. If you see a dandelion, it's pretty in its individuality. You see it by your doorstep and its lovely shade of yellow brightens your day. The next day a few more pop up, and then, in a week, your yard is overgrown with dandelions and you realize they're not flowers at all, they're weeds, and now there's nothing you can do about them. That's how Stephen King feels about adverbs. The good thing is, he also said this is one of those "Do as I say, not as I do" things because he had a tremendous amount of adverbs in his past, too. I didn't focus on that part enough. I'm going to focus on that for awhile now, because... let's face it: if Stephen King uses a lot of adverbs and he's a bestselling author with more money than I could even dream of having, they can't be all bad, now can they?

On another note, I highly encourage any of you in the area to come see the Elkhart Glee Club perform at the 808 Theatre in Downtown Goshen Saturday at 8:00. (Yes, I'm shamelessly plugging because both of my sons are in it, both singing and one drumming and beat-boxing, but come anyway, dang it.)

More to accomplish today, so I'll end this for now. Hope you're having a lovely day, and that it only gets better as it goes on.



  1. you're awesomely descriptive in your writing. Go with it.

  2. Frankly (tee hee) I see nothing wrong with your proverbial adverbosity. If it reads 'natural' that's good enough for me. AND I AM UNANIMOUS IN THIS!!!