bits and pieces

The latest version of Word that has been pushed down to my laptop includes a feature that tags phrasing in documents to offer suggestions for improving it. This is more than just catching spelling errors or possible wrong word choices. This new feature suggests rephrasing of the highlighted text. So far, in all cases, the suggested phrasing is shorter and simpler. While this might be useful if I were writing a high school term paper or news article, it’s pretty much anathema to the playful narrative voice I tend to use in my stories and especially in Obelus.

For example, here is a sentence from Obelus that was cited: And he thought he could use some of that alive feeling at the moment, and not just because of the hangover. Word suggests that I change “at the moment” to “now” to be more concise, saying it would be clearer for the reader. The sentence is out of context, so it’s a bit unfair to use it as an example, but in context the character is pondering each moment in his so-called life, and I think my wording is exactly right to carry that point. Plus, my playful narrative voice. So far it hasn’t flagged any of my hundred-word sentences to make them more concise, but I’m sure that will be in a future upgrade. I guess my point is that this latest enhancement seems to be directed toward dumbing down the writing to make it more accessible to the lowest common denominator.


The ponytail is now gone. It was never flattering; I don’t have silky hair that looks good on a person my age. I’m proud that I held out as long as I did since it meant staying out of a typically crowded and chatty place. Plus when I did finally get it cut, I went into the shop just as it opened, so there was only one other person present.

My hand still strays to the back of my head to touch the ponytail that’s no longer there. I think the experience of growing out my hair won’t be repeated (unless we face a new quarantine).

Anyway, civilized again.


So I’m listening to podcasts, and some of them are very old (from more than ten years ago). In one I heard the participants discuss whether having work appear in a new-fangled online magazine was actually being published or not. Was it more legit to appear in a print journal instead? And the (tentative) conclusion at the time was that maybe it was good to appear online since so many more people would have the chance to read the work.

In more current podcasts (during and post-pandemic) the conversation sometimes turns to whether we should return to in-person readings at bookstores and similar venues. And the (tentative) conclusion is that doing a Zoom reading means appearing before so many more people than could have shown up at a bookstore reading.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic

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