If I was any good at learning from my mistakes, I’d be seriously smart by now.
In just over a year, Proper Discord has had 100 posts, 300 comments and 25,000 page views. What haven’t I learned? You can tell me in the comments. Here are ten things I didn’t know before…
1) I can’t write good stuff on demand. It’s a good thing I don’t work for a newspaper. Every time I feel like I ought to blog about something, I end up writing total rubbish. Two days later, an idea shows up all on its own. People who work for newspapers don’t have this luxury, which I think explains some of the stuff printed in newspapers.
2) It’s never a good idea to get in an argument with somebody who refers to themselves in the first person plural. They’re either using the royal “We” or the schizophrenic “We”. Either way, no good can come of this. Both monarchs and schizophrenics have been known to behead people. ’nuff said.
3) There’s a strong correlation between the posts that piss people off and the ones that lots of people read. I’m not sure how the cause-and-effect relationship works here.
4) I should go easy on people who make comments without really thinking them through. They’re reacting quickly and emotionally to something they’ve read. It isn’t their job to think this stuff through. It’s the Internet, for pity’s sake. I should probably thank people who say nice things, too.
5) There’s no easy way to link to footnotes in WordPress 1. It’s shame, because almost nobody cares what I think. If I’m to convince anybody of anything, a sprinkling of academic rigor would be rather helpful, referencing sources or at least explaining where I got numbers. I just can’t be bothered to code my own anchor tags.
6) Posts with numbers in the title always seem to be popular. Perhaps this is because they offer the reader reassurance that it will end soon. You, for example, are more than halfway there. Anybody who reads blogs (including this one) is familiar with the feeling of being lost on a sea of formless prose, wondering if there is a point to this anywhere.
7) I should make fun of album covers more often. It’s the one thing I do that everybody seems to like.
8) Proper Discord’s traffic grew slowly and steadily for about nine months, and then I made fun of music critics three times in the same week and suddenly I get more page views than Norman Lebrecht2.
9) I don’t think I will ever get tired of saying that I get more traffic than Norman Lebrecht.
10) Some of the comments on this blog are either written by comic geniuses or total morons. I just can’t tell – and I’m not even American. Perhaps life would be simpler for everybody if there was some sort of punctuation to indicate irony.
1 I can only think that this is a public service by WordPress to protect you from the sort of things I might write in them.
2 If you believe this, which I mostly do, even though they use the “<” symbol in a way that makes me wonder if they know what it means.
I love your blog!
“It’s never a good idea to get in an argument with somebody who refers to themselves in the first person plural. They’re either using the royal “We” or the schizophrenic “We”. Either way, no good can come of this. Both monarchs and schizophrenics have been known to behead people. ’nuff said.”
Not quite ’nuff said.
The “we” usage you single out is neither the “first person plural,” the “royal,” nor the “schizophrenic” (I get it; a joke, that last, right?). It’s called “the editorial ‘we'”, and is a venerable usage with a long and honored pedigree.
Make that, “11 lessons from 100 posts”.
I’m going to take the advice of Royster & Thompson (1918) and avoid it on the grounds that it doesn’t sound any less dated or pretentious today than it did 90 years ago.
Why am I even talking about this? What is wrong with me? Will I never learn?
No one so much as implied you should use the form. For a blog as personal in nature as this one, it would be most inappropriate and indeed pretentious. Needless to say (or, rather, it should be needless to say), Sounds & Fury is not such a blog, and on those rare occasions when I post something personal in nature on S&F, I of course always use the “I”, “me”, “my” form just as I’m doing here and as I do when posting in any comments section.
As for the form being “dated,” that’s a preposterous notion. The form is still in use today in practically all editorial pieces appearing in English language periodicals worldwide as it should, whether the editorial speaks for the publication or for the individual editorial writer. That you were ignorant of the form itself is hardly evidence of its dated-ness, but of your ignorance.
A more constructive approach here would be to cite a style manual that recommends the editorial “we” for works with a single author, if you can find one.
I’m not ignorant of this usage. I just think it’s ridiculous to use it on a blog with a single author.
I don’t really understand how S&F is fundamentally different to Proper Discord, but please don’t feel like you have to tell me.
We (my initials and I) feel very strongly that one is entitled to be more venerable and more intelligent than you whenever we please.
After all, it’s the only place we can get our self-worth and sense of superiority from. So listen to us – don’t you know who we think we are?!
The word preposterous is dated and pretentious.
I think you’ll find the word pretentious is pompous.
Proper Discord wrote: “A more constructive approach here would be to cite a style manual that recommends the editorial “we” for works with a single author, if you can find one.”
No, what you ask for is NOT a “more constructive approach.” I’ve already employed the most constructive approach possible in your case; viz., informing you that the editorial “we” form is still routinely in use today by English language publications worldwide.
But to address your request, no general (as opposed to institutional) style manual would “recommen[d]” the editorial “we” form, any more than they would recommend any other grammatical form. It’s use is a matter of personal or institutional preference. As the editorial “we” has been a routine and accepted usage for almost two centuries now, style manuals, if they mention it at all, would simply acknowledge it as an accepted and acceptable usage as does, for instance, _The Chicago Manual of Style_, pretty much the bible of style manuals. _The New York Times_, for an institutional instance, regularly uses the editorial “we” in its editorial pages, but its institutional style manual makes no mention of its use at all, or if it does, I’ve never been able to find it by looking in all the obvious places.
Proper Discord wrote: “I’m not ignorant of this usage. I just think it’s ridiculous to use it on a blog with a single author.”
You’re entitled to think whatever you wish. That’s your concern and none of mine.
Proper Discord wrote: “I don’t really understand how S&F is fundamentally different to Proper Discord, but please don’t feel like you have to tell me.”
The “editorial we” is used to make a point on behalf of a group. If a single person is using it, that’s because the person is a sovereign – where we get the “royal we.” If that person is not a sovereign, that person is trying to maintain an objective tone. And interestingly, that “we” allows a certain, shall we say, distancing from what one has written, does it not? After all, it’s not *I* who is saying it, it is *we.* That implies agreement with whatever dated, pretentious thoughts one wishes to air(e).