I have a confession to make. I’m long-winded, as in, verbose.
What? You noticed that already? I don’t know how…
It’s always been this way. I don’t remember a single teacher in elementary through high school saying, “Now kids, make sure your story/essay is less than a page.” Instead they always said, “Make sure it’s at least a page”, with the specification that the font, if typed, couldn’t be larger than 12 pt. and by the way, tab is definitely not a space key. For other kids, writing was a chore; I woke up an extra hour before school and tossed off four pages of something that fit the requirements.
In fifth grade my teacher told us to write a fantasy story of at least five pages due in three weeks, and I started my first novel. Strangely, my teacher thought it was fine when I announced this plan, and as a result I handwrote my first 56 pages in approximately a week or less (although I never finished), and had about a hundred when I turned it in. As a freshman, my teacher demanded that we rewrite the ending to Romeo and Juliet, in any style we held dear at a minimal 2 pages. I handed in 20 pages of poetic verse and received no objections. In all this time, it never occurred to me that being brief and concise might be something to strive for.
My college professors made it quite clear that there was a cap on space, because they had no desire to increase the hours spent grading, but alas, most of those requirements were for papers, not essays or fiction. I wrote them, dutifully, and perhaps prior planning for paragraph layout and citations kept me in the proper page length naturally, but I still never learned to be brief, not when it came to anything “fiction”.
Many people blanch at novels; I shudder at the thought of even trying to write a short story. It’s hard enough to keep that first novel between 80,000 and 120,000 words. At last word count, I was at about 51,000 words, and from my outline estimate, I’m only a little over a third of the way through.
My comments are long, my blog posts are long, my stories, and usually my poems, are long. Only a few days ago, after typing a comment and hitting the post button, I recoiled in horror at its length. I know the people behind the blogs I follow, no matter how kind they’ve been about it, do not need to wake up to an essay in their comment section, just as I know that my followers have other blogs to read and posts of their own to write.
This is the point where public promises come in, because clearly my efforts to contain my wordiness privately aren’t working. I’ve been trying for at least a year now, and I’d bet no one could tell that I was trying.
Disturbing fact of the week: it could have been far worse.
I hereby promise to write shorter blog posts, comprising no more than 600 words. We’ll call those posts bite-sized. I’ll get to tackling my comma obsession, other punctuation issues, and convoluted sentence structures sometime in the near future, I hope.