Sunday, March 20, 2011

Only an Adverb.

It is not as though you had made some new turn of philosophy about your own work, arriving at the realization you were going to give them up as you in fact did with cigars, beloved pipes, and the occasional cigarette.  You had--or so you thought--taken the pledge on adverbs.  As smoking was a recognizable threat to your health, the injudicious use of adverb was a recognizable threat to the health of your prose.

Back in the late 1980s and early '90s, you'd become aware as you sat listening to readers at the SB Writers' Conference, droning on through a litany of adverbs, taking the effort to tick them off as they appeared, racking up those four vertical lines and the fifth, a diagonal, slashing across them, five, ten,fifteen adverbs, then confronting the reader with the number.  Even back then.

The -ly adverb is one of your anti-habit words, so much so that you become aware in the heat of first-draft creation when one buzzes in, an uninvited mosquito, slipping under the screen or through some interstice between paragraphs.  You are wary of that, of very; you run in cycles where you begin connecting independent clauses with and.  You know it is a distraction to watch for such things when you are composing early draft--aha, early is an -ly word, but it is not an adverb.  Such things undermine the place you attempt to reach when you are at composition.

All right then, the point of this is that you have these last several days been in earnest in your attempts to meet the deadline for the revision of your work, a due date fast approaching, all the more notable because an email from the promotion department arrived today, wanting you to fill in blanks as they represent useful information about you.

With the exception of a leisurely breakfast with friends, you have been at it again today; there is perhaps half an hour of light left in this soggy, wind-driven day, and perhaps three to four more working hours for you to ply the required revisions.  You mention the time frame at all because of the mounting sense of dismay you have felt all day, seeing -ly adverbs that were embedded in the text you submitted to an editor, who then was impressed to the point of sending you a contract to publish which you, with no conscious adverbial intent,signed and returned.

We are talking hundreds of the fuckers.

It is good you have had this opportunity.

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