Random Musings

First up, sorry for spacing last week. The scatterbrain effect continues to be… strong.

Really, there’s not much to tell on my end of the screen. The boy-cats are growing into their personalities – Westley is very much a Dread Kitty, and Midnight is unquestionably a proper Basement Cat and pure Ebil. He’s a very affectionate pure Ebil, though, and those gorgeous gold eyes are something else.

We won’t say anything about the little black paw that slips out from behind my monitor to swipe at my mouse and try to kill it. Or about Westley’s fondness for knocking things off, over, and about. Suffice to say that my mouse goes into my desk drawer if I’m not using the computer.

One of my… quirks, I guess, is that barring typos, I’m mostly able to write reasonably clean first drafts. Spelling is something I don’t have to think about apart from a few words that I glitch on, and I don’t often use the wrong word. Nor do I use bad grammar unless I intend what I’m writing to work that way – blog posts excepted of course, because that’s rather more stream-of-consciousness than anything else.

I don’t do this because I was taught that way. I wasn’t taught spelling and didn’t go through the lists of words to spell. I wasn’t taught grammar, either. I can mostly recognize the major things like verbs, nouns, adverbs, and adjectives. Anything beyond that or beyond the basic past, present, or future tense and I’m well into unknown territory.

What I do have is being an insanely avid reader for years. Some of my glitchy words I have to write down to know that they’re spelled correctly – I have a fairly decent memory and I’ve read so much that most words happen automatically for me, and I know when they look right. That’s really all it is – not that it stopped classmates calling me the walking dictionary at times. Everyone knew to ask me if they needed to know how to spell a word.

Being able to put together sentences and even paragraphs without thinking too much about it is also something of a blessing. At least, it’s a blessing until I have to analyze what I’ve done, because I got this stuff internalized so long ago I don’t remember ever having to work on it. It just… feels right.

Naturally, this means I’m bugger-all use when it comes to helping others with basic grammar and spelling. When something is internalized to that level, it’s damn near instinctive – muscle memory, as it were (and yes, my not-exactly-touch typing is at the same level. Repetition to the point that it’s close to automatic, but not remotely the approved method. I do touch type, but I certainly do not do so in the official method, and what’s worse, I taught myself my method by so much repetition I can’t learn real touch-typing. Not without unteaching myself the method I use. Awkward.)

It’s like… learning to drive is a decent analogy. At first it’s difficult and you’re thinking about everything you need to check and focus on. Eventually, you get to the point where you just do it and you couldn’t verbalize why you let up on the gas just then except that you knew you’d need to (the actual reason being that the combination of all the different moving vehicles and their patterns of movement combined to indicate that traffic was going to slow soon, so you eased up on the gas pedal in anticipation of the slowdown that happened a second or so later).

Life is like that. You learn things, then you internalize them to the point that they stop being skill and start being part of you. Then, if you’re me, you wonder why the heck you can’t explain them to other people.

16 thoughts on “Random Musings

  1. Vocabulary. Mine is big, I’m told. I took a test once, the lady told me I was in the tippy-top percentile. I thought the test was too easy and said so, she assured me its because I’m a mutant. Normal people don’t know all those big words.

    If it is a big vocabulary, its because I’ve read a ton of stuff. It doesn’t feel that big to me because I see words I don’t know all the time. I’m constantly checking the thesaurus for new words to capture a meaning I’m trying to convey.

    Doesn’t everybody do that? ~:D

    1. Apparently not. They apparently also don’t read the thesaurus, the dictionary, or the encyclopedia for leisure, either.

      People are weird.

      1. I used to read Scientific American for fun, before they turned it into what it is now. What’s cooler than reading about Hawking Radiation from a black hole, or how computer clusters work?

        Start talking to somebody about the story in the magazine, and they’d look at me like I was a platypus. Cute and fuzzy but really not right.

        I don’t get it. ~:(

        1. Aw. I _would_ have read Scientific American for fun if it had been easily available to me. US periodicals were kind of… hit and miss when I was growing up in Oz.

          I did read all sorts of other things for fun that would get me the same kind of reaction if I was ever silly enough to talk about them in mixed (our kind and normal people) company.

          And there’s absolutely nothing wrong about a platypus. Cute and fuzzy with a venom spur that’s a nice near-lethal defense. What’s not to like?

          1. I just assumed they were because the Most High decided either 1. not to waste leftover parts or 2. to have fun at the expense of European explorers. Or “yes.” 🙂

      2. I read the dictionary to look up words.

        That I might get so lost in it as to forget what the original word was does not change that.

    2. I used to think I had a good vocabulary but I’ve been reading Jack Vance and now I know I don’t.

      1. When you can read Stephen Donaldson without running for a dictionary then you know you’ve got a good vocabulary (I sometimes wonder if the man swallowed a thesaurus. So many obscure words)

  2. Yep. Read so much I internalized it. All those participles and infinitives and gerunds? I haven’t a clue. I just write. Editing is usually on the plot/story level. Well, then the grammar nazis have at it. Poor things keep trying to explain _why_ and my eyes glaze over. “Sounds better this way, trust us” works better.

    1. The use of knowing what a gerund is talking about it. It makes it easier to explain what is going on.

      Still remember the writer who insisted that the use of a gerund as a direct object was the passive voice.

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