Crash diet

It’s been clear to my readers for a long time.  I’ve known about it for a while, but now I’m facing up to it: I have a problem with parentheses and em-dashes.  I overuse them both.  Terribly.  And rereading yesterday’s post has made me face this truth.

Now, with this blog, I’m writing for myself and a handful of people.  (Ivy Compton-Burnett: “I would write for a handful of people, but I would not write for no one.”  ACK I’M INSIDE PARENTHESES AGAIN.)  I promise you, I’m much more disciplined in my other writing lives.  Still too fond of semicolons, but more disciplined about parentheticals and asides.  Here, I enjoy being able to stuff additional thoughts, exceptions, reversals into the sentence without worrying too much about bursting it apart.

And I love digression, both on the small scale of the aside and on the larger scale of conversations and the even larger one of well, life.  Here’s Adam Phillips in his Paris Review interview:

If one looked into digression, what would begin to fall apart very quickly would be the idea of nondigressive prose and conversation. It seems to me that digression may be the norm, the invisible norm, in conversation. Because if you believe in digression as something separate, you must believe it’s possible to be coherently focused and purposive. What psychoanalysis shows is that one is digressive whether or not one wants to be. Indeed, the digressions one is unaware of are the most telling. Even in normal conversation it’s very interesting how we pick up on each other’s digressions, not only in terms of content, but also in terms of tone of voice, so that it’s actually extremely difficult to stay on a subject. To stay on a subject you’ve got to know what the subject is.

So. Nothing against digression, but purely as an experiment I’m going to try going on a parentheses/em-dashes diet on this blog.  A crash diet lasting a week.  No more parentheses or em-dashes until Thursday, July 3.  Enjoy.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Bardiac on June 28, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I don’t think you overuse either, but to me, your writing feels very warm and conversational. So there!


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