I started writing when I was in primary school. And I used to get high marks for my writing: A’s and A+ marks. It made me feel good. Then the impossible happened: I got a job at Bluesouth in 2007. Well, back then it felt impossible and amazing to get this job. (It still does, sometimes)

So I had to write content for many different websites, sometimes even press releases. I’m still learning every day. Sometimes I got it right; sometimes I got it wrong. I didn’t do too bad back then. I can read some of my older articles and not want to beat my head against a wall. But there are some horrors that I would like to share with you:

1. It’s versus its. One of our account managers walked into the common area at our old offices and wanted to know who wrote a specific article. Well, back in September 2007 it was obvious: I did. I wrote an article for a client and used it’s instead of its. I looked blank for a second before said I’ll change it to the correct word. But I didn’t know why it should’ve been its. Perhaps I was drawing doodles in English class when we covered this. Or perhaps I bunked class for that day. It’s possible. It’s is a contraction of it is or it has — also something I only learnt after school. Or perhaps I just forgot. Its means belonging to it: Its tail was sticking out. These are such easy mistakes to make and sometimes I blame being Afrikaans 😉

2. Using hip ‘n happening words. Fine, I still make this mistake. I still think everyone knows what a fashionista is. I once wrote a blog post and thought everyone would know that a kitchionista is the domestic equivalent of fashionista. People don’t know. If only the truly web-savvy know that Subscribe to my RSS Feed is free, chances are most won’t know ‘fashionable’ words. So it might not be clever to write about teh interweb 😉

3. Utilising words in the wrong context. Ever used enormity instead of enormousness? Or utilise instead of the not so glamorous sounding use? OK, fine, those aren’t the worst examples. But sometimes you use words that just do not belong. Enormity means wickedness, though many people disregard this rule and now prefer using it instead of enormousness. Utilise is not a synonym for use: it means to make the best possible use of something. It’s mostly better to use the original, non-Latin word. Simple is better, remember? I wrote an article last year and used compliment when I meant complement. *knocks head against desk*

4. Verbal diarrhea is a pain. Back in high school, there was a guy — a popular guy, mind you — who we claimed had verbal diarrhea. The online writing equivalent is when you write fluff. Keep It Short, Stupid. Back in September 2007 I wrote 55-word sentences and didn’t feel bad about it. Now I do. Cut out the words you do not need: essentially, actually, in fact, as I was saying. You’ll be more likely to be read posts from authors who do not waffle on and on and on and on.

5. Overuse of brilliant adjectives. See? Who said adjectives are brilliant. Should the reader decide whether a company is brilliant, or should you force-feed him or her to believe it? In the same September 2007 article I wrote about “a dynamic online marketing company in Cape Town”. Perhaps they aren’t, so why write it?

6. Getting subject-verb agreement wrong. I catch myself all the time. I say “Where’s my keys?” when I mean “Where are my keys?” This is such an easy mistake to make. And blaming it on being Afrikaans is a cop-out; I have many black friends who speak faultless English. So I correct myself a lot these days: “There’s my books, um, I mean, there are my books.” Plural subjects need plural verbs. And single subjects need singular verbs. It’s that easy.

Edit on 4 December 2008: And blaming it on being Afrikaans is a cop-out; I have many Xhosa or Sepedi friends who speak faultless English.

I was walking home today after fetching the keys from my Sivu, new flatmate when I saw this car. It happened just as I was about to switch my laptop bag to my other shoulder. Classic.

I wonder if the person who owns this car is a Mxit or IM addict? And I wonder whether LOL WP is available…

Two or three weekends ago I did something I have been longing for: I had tea at Melissa’s in Kloof Street. It was a fabulous Saturday morning and I once again spoiled myself by reading all the magazines available. Isn’t it great when one can do that? Paying R20 for a pot of tea (yes, indeed) seems worth it when I can read Vanity Fair, Vogue, Marie Claire, Glamour, art, and decor magazines.

I picked up the Fair Lady and started reading here and there, turning the pages as I go along. And then I read a blurb that describes the Phaidon Press Wallpaper* City Guides.

They claim these guides are ‘discreet enough to fit in your handbag‘.

I was confused. Why did they call it ‘discreet’? I couldn’t understand why they chose this word. Do they want us to know the guide is not tacky? But why? We all know that Wallpaper is Wallpaper, and that they are a reputable brand, right?

Yes, their website also uses ‘discreet’, but not in the same type of sentence.

Perhaps they meant ‘discrete’, which means compact. That would make the Fair Lady blurb easier to understand, though it could just mean that I’m a bit dof.

I browse single ads every once in a while. My skill at picking up men has improved a bit. Sometimes I meet men in Fego, sometimes I even meet cute Israeli okes at Vida. But it is fun to read Gumtree ads and sometimes I respond to them.

I thought that I’ll write about this and offer you guys some tips. But instead of telling you what to write and what to do, I’ll write about what puts me off.

1. Not reading my ad. If I call myself a ’26-year-old non-supermodel type’, it could mean that I am 26 years old. So why do you still ask me how old I am?
2. Not using a spell check or a dictionary. I’m not the only one who appreciates a well-written email. It doesn’t have to be a 9304384-word email; a few short sentences will do. I’ll forgive a few spelling mistakes but might not be as forgiving over bad grammar.
3. Do not use text speak. Yes, I do love using internet acronyms but this does not mean you may use them in an email to me.
4. Find something in my ad that appealed to you and tell me. Use humour. Be smart. Be bold. Be anything but *yawn* and bland.
And that’s all, really. It’s not that difficult to impress me. I love a good chuckle as much as I like good writing.

I don’t know much about advertising but this is a great ad. It tells a story with humour and class. I found it in the latest copy of Cigar Aficionado (took me a while to know how to spell that word).

Some of you may know that I am a poor copywriter. So I take the taxi and the train to get home. And because I stay in the Northern Suburbs the taxi drives down the main road of Bellville. This is mostly a bland experience: it is a short journey and the taxi drivers and ‘taxi guards’ are pleasant.

Yesterday I saw a sign that might entice lesser beings to part with some cash: Gatsby’s. Sometimes, when reading certain websites I see people use fashionista’s. As a plural for fashionista. Gatsby is not a new word; fashionista, however, is. Do a search for gatsby in google.co.za and you only find about 9000 results. Fashionista has even fewer results: 4880.

Now, I’m thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, people treat new words differently. They might write balconies, not balcony’s, or even balconys; it looks wrong, innit? But gatsby’s and fashionista’s, to your everyday tuck-shop owner or 24.com editor, might look perfect.

And I wonder: when these words become slightly more mainstream, will we get their spelling right?

I love memes. Or, I like memes that I find interesting. So I’ve been tagged by Todd; he encouraged anyone interested to play along. Did I notice that it’s an old meme? Yes, I did. 😉

1. What is the best classic you were “forced” to read in school (and why)?
2. What was the worst classic you were forced to endure (and why)?
3. Which classic should every student be required to read (and why)?
4. Which classic should be put to rest immediately (and why)?
5. **Bonus** Why do you think certain books become classics?

My answers

1) To kill a Mockingbird. It was in Grade 11. I had English Second Language HG and this was our prescribed book. I wasn’t too pleased; it looked awfully boring. But as I read the story I became very interested in the characters. I don’t think I ever finished the book, even though I answered many exam questions on it. But I saw the movie in 2006 and might reread, and finish, the book eventually.

2) The Lord of the Flies. I’m sure it’s not an awful book. But it did nothing for my 16-year-old self. I’ll try to read it again someday but it won’t be soon. Perhaps I could not grasp the many metaphors. But I believe one shouldn’t look for metaphors in a novel; they will find you. Whatever happened to reading for fun?

3) The Color Purple. It’s not one of the easiest books to read. But once you are used to the dialect and the writing style it is enjoyable. I loved the writing. The chapters also helped with my short attention span. I blame the interweb for my short attention span. Reading this book on the bus to work every day was a treat. I didn’t want to read it anywhere else; it’s a short(ish) book and reading it at home would’ve shortened my reading pleasure.

4) Ulysses. Honestly, most people buy this book when they’re 16. Well, I did. And then they hope to finish it soon. It’s 10 years later and I haven’t even progressed beyond the first two pages. I would like to hear from anyone who has finished this tome. Did it impress you? Is there substance to the hype?

5) They’re ‘universal’; people can relate to their ideas and actions . They might not become popular in their lifetime; perhaps they only become popular after some years. But then someone picks it up, reads it and it becomes lost in the world or worlds conjured up by the writer. Word of mouth might spread and it becomes popular.