September 19, 2007

In Which I Fail Essays

I find I am intimidated by FORMAL non-fiction.

Immediate digression: For the record, there is VERY LITTLE formal non-fiction here on Faster than Kudzu. FTK is me spewing out whatever random mental illness-filled silliness pops into my head right as I open Word. Here, I might tell you, to both give an example and PROVE my contention that this is not formal non-fic by digressing so so so far off topic we may not make it back, that we had to buy a baby gate because LITTLE KITTY still has his home base in my bathroom. BTW, Boggart now thinks LITTLE KITTY is his name, and Schubert, who has just become willing to recognize himself AS Schubert after his long Maisy-inspired stint as WAFFLES THE CAT, is beginning to think HIS name is BIG KITTY. For the record I just fit THREE digressions into one opening paragraph. I will need a trail of breadcrumbs to get BACK to the titular topic and PS, let’s make it four and note that word titular sounds dirty. JUST SAYIN’.

ANYWAY, back to digression one, LITTLE KITTY is still eating and visiting the WC in my master bath because those of us who are EXTREMELY old and fat and one-eyed and need low ash kibble in order to pee should NOT be eating Purina One Kitten Formula, and also those of us who are old and exhausted and black-hearted and as cruel as a pirate think of the basement as OUR OWN DOMAIN FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD and until Little Kitty figures out how to go through the cat door and invades on his own, I am going to let BIG KITTY remain sole monarch of the under-world.

SO NOW we have a baby gate over the master bath because at SOME POINT the dog, who is still known as Bagel (at least until the advent of a TALL DOG makes us start calling him SHORT DOG) went upstairs and realized we had set up a FABULOUS SALAD BAR under my sink. Scott came dragging him down the stairs to thrust him out into the yard, and his nose was WHITE with a fine crust of embedded litter. He looked like a French pig after a truffle hunt and he smelled like DEATH. So. Now we have a baby gate to climb over every time we want to brush our teeth. We also have ample proof that here be not formal non-fiction. Here be rambling about poop.

BUT. I have been asked to do some guest blog spots and write a couple of essays for various venues, and I open up Word to write them and then I start panicking about typos because HERE I just say Oh WHATEVER and allow myself to be the homophonic fragment-loving run-on-sentencer that I am. The one who FAILED typing class. Twice. Once in high school and once in college.

I freeze up like a mid-road possum and ask myself HOW can someone who cannot for the LIFE of her, even by accident, even ONCE, type the correct form of capitol/capital even though I SWEAR TO THE LORD I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE I just type it wrong every time even though the law of averages says I should hit it right by sheer random chance half the time but NO I DO NOT, HOW can a person like this be expected to GUEST BLOG or WRITE AN ESSAY without COMPLETELY humiliating herself?

I angst over my FLAWS clotting up someone else’s perfectly NICE magazine or blog. In a novel, I know a BEAUTIFUL ANGEL-SHAPED copy editor will get hold of it and go nuts with her slashing purple crayon before it goes out into the world. And here, I just cut loose. I mean, I LIVE here you know? It is MY room, and in MY room I hang out in ratty boxer shorts and a GO BAMA T, burping with impunity, but I would never come to your nice garden party and behave like such a Hootchipap. It is DIFFERENT.

In my head, a blog entry for a blog that it is not MINE is WILDLY different. So I sit there, castigating myself over typos until I realize there are not any typos BECAUSE I HAVE WRITTEN NOTHING. And the time I set aside to write the essay has PAST (yes, yes I DID mean PASSED, shut UP!) and I need to go get the kidlets or get on the elliptical or work on the book or cook a meal.

I wrote ONE guest blog entry and when it was done, I think I had used up my small store of sanity. I then spent about 15 hours on the FIRST godforsaken essay. IT IS DONE. Done-Ish. I am now trying to write two more guest blog spots and another essay, and it is not HAPPENING. The few times I have BEGUN, I find I am LYING to make the story better and then realizing it is an ESSAY, not fiction, and I am not ALLOWED to lie, so I go back and delete it down to the part where I was telling the truth and find I am left with three sentences, one of which has a homophone error.

Part of it is I am writing a novel now in earnest (threads are knitting themselves together in my head, even though my word count remains lower than I would like) but at least things are progressing, and the thought of trying to write something even remotely for really true at this point makes me want to crawl under a tractor and wait for a farmer to till me into the soil where I can do some good as fertilizer.

OR the above paragraph is an excuse and really I just can’t stand the thought of an entire HERD of escaped errors (like the PAST/PASSED thing that I found when I gave this entry its usual cursory glance of a proof-read) making it’s way onto the pristine blog of a person who never met a THERE that somehow morphed into a THEIR while on the road from brain to page. Who knows. This is the time on sprockets when I throw my hands up in despair and go to try and make a lolcat out of the picture my friend Jill sent me:


Posted by joshilyn at September 19, 2007 4:53 AM

I say just go write it just like you would your novel and then have someone IRL act as your editor. That's what I do. I don't have problems with homophones (I guess you could say I'm not homophonic!), but comma rules completely escape me. Fortunately, I work with a girl who derives real pleasure from cleaning up my messes, so I just let her read everything I write.

Posted by: Leandra at September 19, 2007 6:15 AM

Why in the world are you up at 4:53 AM?

Posted by: jean at September 19, 2007 6:46 AM

(from kitty):


Posted by: Brigitte at September 19, 2007 7:51 AM

I was going to suggest "U IZ COMFI?" but I like Brigitte's better.

Posted by: Badger at September 19, 2007 8:01 AM

Oh, my gosh, I think you need to let your unique genius flow and then find someone to change your THEREs to THEIRs and whatnot. If you have no one in real life, I bet you could find someone here who'd volunteer. (I'm an anal-retentive former copy editor Virgo. Just saying.)

You mean you lie to make a story better? Truly, I'm shocked. :-)

Posted by: amy at September 19, 2007 8:24 AM

I bet not everyone tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in essays. I think even something that's technically non-fiction should allow for artistic embellishment. Seriously. I'm with the others - I say write it like you'd write it for FTK, then let a willing volunteer editor clean up the spelling and whatnot (<---technical term!) for consumption by non-FTK readers.

BTW, I WANT that puppy in the photo (although I already have a puppy who is not quite 4 months old, so I need another puppy like I need to have a stick of burning dynamite shoved up my left nostril).

Also, Brigette's caption suggestion almost made me choke on a bite of cherry pop tart.

Posted by: DebR at September 19, 2007 9:13 AM

I wanted to make a clever comment, but i had writer's block. And everyone else said it better anyway. (Deb, can I have some cherry poptart?)

Posted by: janet at September 19, 2007 9:50 AM

Ooo I like Bridgette's but I have to admit my first thought was "Here. Smell this." Yes I have sons and it shows :)

Our dog also likes the catbox crunchies. She does this walk of shame where she holds her nose to the floor as she walks so we won't notice the ring of white around it.

Going off topic a bit, but I once saw a kitty litter cake recipe that had tootsie roll poops. My boys always beg me to make it for their birthday.

Posted by: Laura L at September 19, 2007 9:58 AM

"Part of it is I am writing a novel now in earnest"

Ya think?

LOL cat caption:

"I gots dis one cap'n... you gots the udder one?"

"sittin' on seement gives me 'roids"

Posted by: Heather at September 19, 2007 9:59 AM


Posted by: Stephanie at September 19, 2007 10:12 AM


Posted by: dramamama at September 19, 2007 10:19 AM

Okay. First of all, there are NO writers who have never had a THERE morph into a THEIR on its way from brain to page. There may be some who CLAIM that has never happened to them, but they are lying LIARS. I am a self-professed anal-retentive grammar queen, and yet when I'm in the flow on a screenplay I've been known to their theres, to toos, blew blues, and perpetrate horrifying numbers of typos. The good news is that I'm good at catching 'em after the fact.

Seriously, I'd be happy to proofread your essays for you, if you want.

Posted by: Aimee at September 19, 2007 10:37 AM

I had to check back to see if anyone had come up with other captions and y'all are TOO funny!!

(Janet, sure, pop - har! - on over and I'll set you up with a cherry pop tart of your very own. )

Posted by: DebR at September 19, 2007 11:42 AM

What a timely blog post since I just today wrote about homophones and homonyms. Seriously. And this is not something I have ever written about before.

It all evolved when I, former newspaper reporter, morphed into an English teacher. And yesterday (yes, YESTERDAY) one of my students told me one of his good friends just happens to be my proofreader from the newspaper who I theorize knows every one of my bad writing habits better than I do. Who could probably tell homonym horror stories about my writing.

Really, it's just scary. I think I need to bribe the proofreader before the truth gets out.

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at September 19, 2007 11:47 AM

There are some traditonal LOLCAT captions and forms of captions that get re-used. The most frequent and common is "I CAN HAS ____????" This pic looks like a candidate for the SECOND most frequent and common:


In fact, if you shop at WOOT! (my husband does, religiously, as much for the witty text as for the awesome deals on electronic computery man toys; it is his FAVORITE blog, I think he he checks it more than he checks MINE!!! You can find it at for the wooterly uninitiated) anyway, some days, instead fo a single item, they have a woot off, which is where they CLEAN OUT THE WAREHOUSE by posting a new item in very limited quantities for a great price, and a new item goes up the second the previsou one sells out.

When a DUMB BAD item gets posted (for example they had sports umbrellas, once) and people fear it will sell out slowly and DELAY or kill the woot off, people post PAGES and PAGES of DO NOT WANT lolcat pics. This would be good pic for that, as yellow smashed kitty emphatically DO NOT WANT that dog.

Another traditional form of lolcat vernacular is "I'm in ur _____, Blanking Ur _____" so this one could be:

"I'm undr ur dog, chekkin' out teh Chassy."

Posted by: Joshilyn at September 19, 2007 11:51 AM

so I guess now would be a bad time to ask you to guest blog on my site


Posted by: Dianna at September 19, 2007 12:15 PM

"get awf, I cant breaf, I cant breaf"

Posted by: pam at September 19, 2007 12:20 PM

Puppy: PWND!

Kittn: U wll pay 4 dis!

Posted by: Sarah at September 19, 2007 12:53 PM

"I don' see no steenkin' cat!"

Posted by: Amy-Go at September 19, 2007 2:33 PM

YOU need help!
and by the way, I got the book!
you are kind, beautiful, winsome, charming, ect, ect...I love de lovity my book. I think I'm going to read it again. Just to see if I'm as surprised the second time as I was the first. {grin}}

Posted by: Desi at September 19, 2007 3:35 PM


Seriously. Anyone who can use THAT word and still make sense can write just about anything.

If ewe right it, they we'll reed.

Those Lolcat suggestions are HILARIOUS!!!!

Posted by: Roxanne at September 19, 2007 6:08 PM

Wouldn't you have to stifle a very loud voice in order to write Truth-is-Boring-Formal-Essay? A very loud and INSISTENT voice, but yet still pleasant to the ear.

Pup: Is my timeout done yet?

Posted by: Patti at September 19, 2007 8:00 PM

Oh, and also?

Would you guest-blog for me tomorrow?

Posted by: Lisa at September 19, 2007 10:23 PM

Dude, I think were doing this(squish)wrong.

Cat: Ok, ok, you can have my lunch money you bully.

Cat: I'll come up with the money I swear, just tell you boss to call off his dogs!


Posted by: Tina at September 19, 2007 11:54 PM

I pink-puffy heart you - because you are published and make all the same mistakes I make unpublished.

Posted by: MitMoi at September 22, 2007 10:00 PM

You may find interesting the following article ( It gives good examples of where to find information/resources in creating first class essay and How to Write a 1st-Class Thesis or Dissertation.

Posted by: Marian at September 24, 2007 2:13 PM