774. Geraldine’s picket fence

774fence

Geraldine decided to make a fence. It was to be a lovely white picket fence along the front of her garden. It was going to be a masterpiece!

She went to the hardware store and purchased some boards made of polyvinyl chloride and some nails. She placed them in some sort of order on the ground near where she was going to erect the fence.

That was it! She didn’t do any more. People asked, but where’s the fence?

I’ve done it! she said.

But that’s not a fence! everyone cried adverbially. A fence is not just bits of wood and some nails and paint lying about!

Oh yes it is, said Geraldine. This is my wonderful fence and I’ve finished. It’s so satisfying. It was quite a challenge.

(Oh sorry! I’ve got all muddled. It wasn’t a fence at all. It was November, and Geraldine was writing a novel).

51 thoughts on “774. Geraldine’s picket fence

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      If I may add a little congratulations to yourself, Keith, on completing you aim in a few weeks. It’s not a process, as you can tell from the story, that I would agree with (for anybody). I think quite frankly it’s verbal pollution and the organisers should be strung up by the Lombards. I don’t deny it’s not a personal challenge for people. But a novel? Not in a thousand years.

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      1. Keith Channing

        I’m not entirely in disagreement with you, and anyone who believes they can produce something more than a first rough draft at that rate is fooling themselves. However, if the thirty day binge of writing is the culmination of months of planning, plotting, outlining, character and world-building, then that first rough draft may have a different character.

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        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          I agree with that Keith. But never with “writing a novel in November”. The process seems to imply that writing a certain number of words is what a novel makes. I know you don’t think that way but every second writer’s blog these days of November seems to be about how difficult it is to keep writing all these words every day! (And P.S. – none of this is intended to take away the pleasure you might gain from completing your aim).

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      1. Cynthia Jobin

        I think the genre “novel” has been watered down quite a bit and means only a longish collection of narrative words nowadays, that seem like a book. The people who organize the November Novel are obviously ignorant of what the serious traditional genre entails in talent and craft and/or are presuming to take advantage of what the naïve don’t know: that you can learn to write, (a long, experiential process mostly by reading, reading, a lot of good writing) but you cannot be taught to write.

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  1. Cynthia Jobin

    I think you already know my thoughts about the writer wannabe cesspool, Bruce, and I couldn’t agree more with the point of view implied here.

    On a lighter note you’ve made my day, with the phrase “everyone cried adverbially”……

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  2. thecontentedcrafter

    Oh ho! I know from whence this story comes for you mentioned once to me about the person who got all the words down and then asked for an editor to put them in order. I thought I was alone in eschewing the blogs of persons who name them ‘So-and-so Author’ and such like. so many of them cannot even spell the words they put down for the editor to put in order…….. But having said that I do read the blogs of some very few great writers!

    I should like to build a picket fence……..

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      I have a set of headphones with a mic – and the mic records when I click on an icon on my computer. It saves as an wma file – and somewhere I found a free program online that converts wma to mp3. It’s pretty mickey-mouse.

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        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          If you’ve got a microphone associated with your computer, there should be a program installed somewhere that allows you to record. When you save your recording, it will probably save it as a file with a .wma extension. I then convert it to a file with a .mp3 extension because that seems to play best on other people’s computers. I’m not particularly technical, so can’t really help much more than that. It seems to work ok for me. Creating the music is a different process.

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          1. Cynthia Jobin

            I use an inexpensive little hand-held digital recorder—like students and news reporters use—to record my poems. It comes with a thingy to plug into my laptop’s USB and is already in the right format (Mp3) for WordPress. Then I just hit the WordPress “add media” on the editing page, drag/drop the recording into WordPress, “insert into post,” and, as they say, voilà!

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            1. Rachael Charmley

              Oooo Cynthia. I can relate to this. So I record something on my phone, plug it into my poota with its USB thingy, then press ‘Add Media’ on the post, making sure I’m in the right format,right? Et voila!! Thank you, Cynthia.

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          2. Rachael Charmley

            Ta muchly dear pal… I think I should have a mic somewhere on this mac (:-)) so I shall have a little play and see what’s what. If all becomes quiet quite soon, I have thrown the technology in the river…

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            1. Bruce Goodman Post author

              LOL! Remember, a computer is even more faithful than a dog: it will do ONLY what it is told to do – nothing more, nothing less. Which means, Rachael, that you should be putting on your swimming gear and getting ready to jump into the river yourself!!

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                1. Bruce Goodman Post author

                  😀 If it’s any consolation, I have never learnt to use a cell phone – not for recording, photographing, texting, or even ringing up on. I keep it recharged however – in case there’s an earthquake or something!

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  3. simon682

    With fences and extended works of prose I’ve always favoured the process over the product (apart when I’m reading someone else’s (or leaning on it)). So I’m sort of with Geraldine….I think.
    (why is ‘polyvinyl chloride’ funny in this context? It certainly made me splutter!)

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  4. arlingwoman

    My reaction to the ninoramo has always been puzzlement, but this was really a very funny send-up. The narrator of Muriel Spark’s novel A Far Cry from Kensington damns one of her co-workers with “she was a master of the passive voice,” which I remember gave me a good belly laugh the first time I read it. You should try it, Bruce. It would probably be priceless!

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      I shall indeed try it. I have never understood grammar rules – and can’t comprehend what the passive voice is so I probably have used it all the time. People explain but I can’t understand it. I gave up Latin when they got onto Ablative Absolutes. I think that grammar is what Classical scholars do when trying to foist Greek and Latin rules onto us Anglo-Saxon/Celtic languages speakers. The rules don’t fit without screwing the language around and destroying it. Caesar is still trying to subjugate the British.

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      1. Cynthia Jobin

        With the passive voice, something is done, but you’re not focussing on whodunnit….Instead of saying “we all had a good time”….the passive voice says “a good time was had by all.” No one is the active actor; all are passive, and acted upon. It’s a great verbal voice for passive-aggressive types of people, who love to get you going, but take no responsibility for it. The words were said….the lights were lit, the spit was spat, the shit was shat….whoever did any of this vanishes into the shadows…..that’s why it’s considered weak, among good writers, who prefer to name something/someone (subject) and to say what it’s doing (verb). But you know all that……

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        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          I understand all your examples, but I couldn’t think up one on my own. Is “Everyone had a good time” in the passive voice? or “All had a good time”? And I can’t understand why we can’t write what we like! Eric gets very annoyed with me at not understanding what the passive voice is. I prefer “A good time was had by all” because the narrator can get away with murder: “I went to the party, and, you know… um… shall we just say a good time was had by all?” It’s far less weak than “We all had a good time.” It’s sumptuous! It’s glorious in it’s ambiguous implication!! What really happened at the party where “a good time was had by all”? (I feel so dumb… – I guess it’s why I’ve never been able to learn a foreign language. I argue with the grammar.) Am I being too post-modern?

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          1. Cynthia Jobin

            “Everyone had a good time,” is active voice. “All had a good time”, is active voice. It depends on whether you put the good time first, or the doers of the good time first, that’s all. The people (doers) should come first, and then what you’re saying about them. (the predicate.) It’s not so much about rules, as it is a logic of language. There’s nothing wrong with passive voice, it’s just a more indirect way of saying something, but the option is always there; it still communicates. If you you don’t fancy the difference, then you don’t. You prefer indirectness, maybe, nuance and ambiguity. Chaqun à son gout! Grammar, after all is rules made by people who agree to agree. There are always those who disagree, and don’t care for such rules in the first place. As a writer of poems, I often like to play outside the rules, and run into objections to the liberties I take. And all I can say is……well, I won’t say it. 🙂

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            1. Bruce Goodman Post author

              Indeed! It was not said.
              So… subject and object… the object is made into the subject when it is not… I would have imagined a poet to revel in the breaking of “rules”… it surely adds a nuance/depth/ambiguity of expression. Thanks to your generous explanation I have thought of a story using the passive voice. It gives me the shivers!!

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