A Pet Peeve
As a way to prepare myself for writing my next novel, I recently re-arranged furniture in my unfinished room (the writer’s room). I came across a storage box (milk crate) which contained a cheapie portfolio. In the faux leather, zip-around organizer with 8-1/2x11 pad of yellow paper, I found several pages for NOCTURNE, the novel written during last summer (2012).
I read the hand-written passages of dialogue, none of which were used. I realized it was an interesting method I’d employed of composing dialogue and scenes that were NOT to be used. There was also a list of the musical compositions to be included (most of them were), details (physical objects in various scenes), and the list of characters.
It was amazing for me to observe my “pre-planning, pre-writing” organizational work. I felt quite pleased with the efficiency of my creativity, although at the time that those pages were being jotted down, I did not feel efficient. I felt “not quite right,” and pressured by an internal clock ticking toward an unknown time.
I tore these pages up and threw them away. I then found in one of the storage “folds” a printed sheet of the “pet peeve.” It was composed during the early fall of 2010 when I’d just about had enough of the online grammatical poseurs of grammar. The hyper-usage of the word “as” to mean something that really means “because” or “while” (such neglected words!) had become, in my mind, an atrocity of literal proportions. I even sent an email to a makeup blogger (I laugh now at my naïveté) about her extreme over-use of the word, as.
I recommended a grammar book with which I, for the most part, agree (Woe is I), and I wished her well. I recall on that same day (Saturday) in early October (2010) watching (on television) Barry Zito of the S.F. Giants. In almost slow-motion he horribly disintegrated (choked) on the mound in his first 3 innings against the Padres (4 runs, 3 of them earned). It was a zero-tolerance type of day for me.
Of course, the Giants went on to their historic World Series win, and Barry Zito was banned from participating in anything other than looking at the pitcher’s mound (scene of the crime) for the duration of the year. But Barry made good during the 2012 championship season.
I wish that I could say that someone has made good online regarding the usage of “as” to express something it does not. I can report no progress toward any kind of handle on the English language. A grammarian has advised me to give up. It’s too late. I’d fare better appealing to St. Jude, patron of lost causes.
Dear Daughter states that the use of “as” to mean “while” and “because” is common in British English (novels of the pre-20th century). Her correct observation makes my point: it is the utterly pretentious attempt by the utterly ignorant to sound utterly educated (and the Brits are presumably the paragons of utterly educated and tasteful intelligence) that utterly drive me up the wall! The affectation affects more than this writer, I assure you.
It is perhaps with a vain hope that I do so, but I believe that any supposedly insignificant but trampled adjective, conjunction, pronoun, or preposition can be rehabilitated. (And I do mean to habilitate to a previously normal and healthy condition). I therefore offer below a digital version of the typed sheet that I created while I took a short break between completion of the draft of THE DAWN and the start of revisions. I think that this written exercise in the fundamentals of English grammar proved helpful in venting my frustration over the Zito disaster.
I did hand one printed sheet to each of my maturing children. Dear Daughter took it with a sigh. Dear Son took it and fumed, “And what about ISSUES? Do you know how often I had to hear on that campus that everything is an issue?”
Alas! Mother Writer can only do so much. That preposterosity - yes, Word, I just made the word up - is covered in a different essay.
Here is The Pet Peeve:
WEBSTER’S NEW WORLD DICTIONARY
SECOND COLLEGE EDITION
As – adj.
- to the same amount or degree, equally [he is just as happy at home].
- for instance: thus [a card game, as bridge];
- When set off or related in a specified way [romanticism as contrasted with classicism];
- to the same amount or degree that [it flew straight as an arrow];
- in the same manner that, according to the way that [do as you are told];
- at the same time that, while [she wept as she spoke]’
- because [as you object, we won’t go];
- that the consequence is [the question is so obvious as to need no reply];
- though [tall as he was, he couldn’t reach the apples];
- [Colloq.] that [I don’t know as I should.]
- a fact that [he is tired as anyone can see;
- that [preceded by such or the same [such as is well known]
- in the role, function, capacity, or sense of [he poses as a friend];
- like [the risk is as nothing compared to the gain];
- as . . . as a correlative construction used to indicate the equality or sameness of two things [as large as; as heavy as; as many as; etc.]
- as for - with reference to; concerning;
- as if - 1. as it (or one would); if; 2. that [it seems as I she’s never happy];
- as is - [Colloq.] just as it is, without any changes; said of damaged goods being sold;
- as it were - as if it were so; so to speak;
- as of - up to, on, or from (a specified time);
- as though - same as AS IF;
- as to - 1. with reference to; concerning; 2. as if to
There now! I feel better. Don’t you?!