I'm a writer. So.

(a diatribe)

Greetings non-danglers of participles,

Okay.

My dad was a stickler for grammar, having learned English as a second language and predetermining that his kids were going to speak English properly. (I remember a tirade after a parent conference with an English teacher who’d pleasantly said “y’all can be very happy with Milda’s work in my class.” I also thought it was fun to diagram sentences. Yes, really. My friends and I would come up with the longest grammatically correct sentences that we could convolute, and demand our Honors English teacher (I’m so sorry, Mrs. Rice!) allow us to diagram it on the board.

I don’t think my dad would like the new use of the word “so” as a replacement for the entire predicate of a sentence.

To be fair, we have already seeded the language with useless words. I grew up in the decade of “like” as a replacement for “um” - but even that Valley-Girl usage has been replaced….

“Like” and “was like” ubiquitously replaces many otherwise useful phrases such as “for example” and “when he said” or “then they said” or “I may have said” (Like this cartoon by a young person whose name appears to be Nine.)

But now we have the word “so” which for a relatively long time has been misused to begin a sentence or thought without antecedent:

But now “so” has crept into common conversation in NYC (is it this way around your area too?) at the END of a sentence. The predicate of the entire sentence is left off after the word “so” and the listener or reader is expected to finish what should presumably be self-evident.

But is it?

“I’m not going to clean up, so.”

“I haven’t given you a reason, so.”

“You owe me five bucks, so.”

I think (and this is just me being weird) that we have been trained by predictive text to be kind of okay with people not entirely finishing their sentences.

After all, we are all more intelligent than the AI that compose predictive texts and since we are fairly intelligent, we will have some assumptions on what people will say.

But is that healthy?

How many arguments have you had where someone says “let me finish!” or “that wasn’t what I was going to say!”

In our house we rarely give enough time for the other person to complete their thought before we jump in with our own opinions and comments. I don’t think this is necessarily healthy (or ever healthy, TBH), but I do feel that it is a growing trend.

Instead of predictive text, we use assumptive text.

Conversational language assumes that you’re going to interrupt anyway, so….

Are you around people who do this? Have you noticed it? Personally, I dislike it when people try to finish my sentences (that goes for predictive text as well, which I turn off whenever possible). How do you feel about it?

My question to ponder is…. how much text can we remove from our actual dialogues and still understand each other reasonably well?


Things I did this week:

Started the NYSCA application for Pen Parentis. I really dislike writing grants, but it does give me the opportunity to look back at what I’ve done for the last two years. And that is some surprisingly remarkable stuff. Mixed feelings about grantwriting, here. Buy stock in coffee: it seems to be the only way I can get through it.

I still can’t believe that I did a zoom with David Gerrold last Saturday. He invented Tribbles! Here’s the playback (sneak peek—no one actually knows this is out yet). ( video also features Christina Chiu co-hosting and the other authors are the magical Daniel Keys Moran, a longtime friend and Malena Crawford who had just gotten back from Costa Rica!

On the side, I wrote a little review of the public art that Eataly claims is so glamorous: spoiler, the marketing is better than the actual art, though the artist is truly intriguing. This is a clear indication that when corporations get involved in art, the artist just does whatever they want, takes the money, and goes back to making actual art.

Also, despite the afternoon thunderstorms, by the time it was night, the first Pen Parentis in-person event I’ve hosted since pandemic was a big hit! My idea was to hang out at the Seaport with a shopping discount at McNally Jackson and then engage in book-related chat over wine at Cobble & Co. I partnered us up with FiDi Book club and wonderful old friends & some new ones turned out, and the glamorous Jamie Brenner (and Hachette Group!) donated summery books to give away. (Plus Denise Courter came up with even more amazing giveaways including a sail-for-two, desserts at Capo Capo, and dinner for two at Seaport places… It was so gorgeous to be hanging out in person with humans and talking about things like the weather and clinking glasses instead of just lifting them up to a screen…

Shared experiences in physical proximity are vastly underrated.

Have a great week full of them!

(I went to the first day of the poetry festival on Governor’s Island yesterday and it was GLORIOUS. I highly recommend anyone in proximity to attend day 2 today. Me, I am bringing LadyTeen to fancy camp for three weeks.)