Monday, July 18, 2011

I like words...

My entries have seemed very long, lately. So I checked up on optimal word counts for blogs this morning. The general consensus is that you should write more than 250 words, and, typically, less than 1,000, if you are writing for search engine optimization.

(And aren't we ALL? I mean, what the hell does that really MEAN?)

Authors of the optimal word count articles, however, after saying this, typically backpedal and say that THERE ARE NO HARD AND FAST RULES--that some people like long blog lengths, and others won't bother reading if you have more than 5 sentences and use words of 4 syllables or more. And, if you're writing a personality-driven blog, what matters isn't the word count but the personality.

But they usually say this in fewer than 1,000 words. And they say it at about a fourth-grade reading level.

Obviously, following the rules is not my strong point.


I really like making words dance with ideas. Here's how I think of it.

On one side of the gymnasium are the floaty ideas in their chiffon dresses. They're milling about like fireflies by the punchbowl (which is probably spiked--a lot of ideas are rebellious that way). They're probably gossiping about someone who's still in the locker room, someone who just got her first period, or whose pantyhose have a big run in them -- heavy stuff like that.

Ideas are flighty, sneaky things. Their feet barely touch the floor, and you have to match them up with the right words, or they could float away from you forever. Every once in awhile, you can ALMOST perceive that one is glancing shyly across the room. Not because you SEE the glance, no, she's too quick and devious for that; it's mainly because you catch the reflection of light off of her braces. And it was NOT a random reflection from the mirrorball. (Yes, OBVIOUSLY I was in middle school during the disco era.)

Hugging the wall on the other side, you have an unruly pack of surly words and phrases. Some of them max out at 3 feet tall and 60 pounds; others are hulking seven-foot trolls with facial hair and prison tattoos. But almost every one has dabs of zit cream on their faces, and they're all reluctant to be there. It has been a challenge even getting them into the gymnasium at all. Until 5 minutes ago, they were outside, starting fist fights and fires in the parking lot and probably sniffing glue (or other things) as well.

And I am the sadistic little French dance teacher who slaps my palm with a baton (or, as the case may be, an electric cattle prod), and herds them together into the center of the room and ASSIGNS them partners. Then I FORCE them all to dance, or try to dance, to whatever music I want. Some nights it's polka music; others it's screamo or all Elton John/Bernie Taupin. My call.

Like I said, sadistic.

Sometimes my pairings are terrible. Some of the words, cute and well-meaning though they may be, have clammy hands that feel like dead refrigerated trout. When they come into contact with an idea, the idea shrieks and evaporates up through the ceiling, leaving nothing behind but a pile of empty clothes and a lingering trace of Charlie perfume. That's a bust.

Other times, I match up a delicate graceful idea with the biggest, thuggiest word EVER--just for the hell of it. And, thanks to his size 16 feet tromping all over hers, they both become leaden. If I let that go too long, they'll both crash through the floor and into the boiler room and probably beyond and we could have a Sunnydale Hellmouth situation all over again.

But when I get it right, it's a thing of pure unexpected beauty. And I'm the choreographer.

Which means I'm going to use as many words as I need, to say something the way I feel I need to say it. I guess I could have said it that way, huh?

Somehow I like the dance better.

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