Eight months of daily musings
It’s the last day of the month. On the last day of each month, I do my best to reflect back on what I’ve written and learned about writing in the past month. In the first few months, I found myself developing or refining my style . Yet it is not clear that the style or the quality of my writing has changed significantly after those first few months . My prose remains workmanlike. I continue to release musings that need more editing . I continue to make pointless jokes throughout each musing .
So, what has happened in this past month? About a week ago, I decided to stop titling these
essay of the day, at least when I post them to Twitter or Facebook. I called the series
musings at the beginning for a reason, and I’m going back to that term. I’m not sure whether I’ll revise the indices to say
Musing rather than
Essay, but the possibility exists .
I did hit one of my biggest sets of struggles this semester. First, I didn’t have access to the Internet and was working too hard on other things, so I didn’t get essays developed to their normal state for a few days and ended up posting five essays at once. The
skip a day or two and then make it up pattern happened in the first round of forty or so essays and ended up foreshadowing the summer-long stoppage. I’d prefer not to stop.
Given that preference, I was unhappy to find that I had writer’s block for a few days when I returned . I pressed through it, because I’ve committed to writing something and because any writing is better than no writing. But I’m still not sure that it’s gone. I had trouble writing the essay on international CS majors, which is strange given how much I appreciate those students. I’m finding it a bit harder to come up with topics that are of general interest. As I look back over the month, I see that I even had writer’s block earlier in the month. That is certainly not a good sign.
I worry that in writing these musings, I am increasingly focusing inward, rather than outward. I’d like to find more occasions in which I naturally write things that will be of use to prospective students, or current students, or whoever . So maybe my writing has changed in that I have ended up writing introspectively . I don’t think I like the change.
Perhaps I worry too much. I see that I wrote a few pieces that I consider useful, such as the commentary on tipping hotel housekeeping and the draft SEPC handbook . I wrote about a strange teaching practice that it sounds like some folks may adapt. I even provided helpful guidance for employment seekers
I’ve also started to play with writing tools. I process most of these musings  through Grammarly and the Hemingway Editor . I tried Grammarly premium and gave up on it because it gave incorrect advice, and I don’t want to pay that much for incorrect advice . Nonetheless, because I use these tools, I end up looking at my writing more closely. At times, I wonder whether I might be equally well served by a tool that highlights random sentences and asks,
Are you sure you’ve said this as well as you can? In any case, I wonder if anyone notices that I have edited these essays more carefully than before? I don’t.
I have also been writing a number of pieces that I am not comfortable posting. During break, I wrote: a recommendation letter or two, which I definitely should not post; two position proposals, which would also be inappropriate to post; an explanatory document for a proposal before the Grinnell faculty, which should stay within the faculty; a draft of an external review, which I certainly should not post; some paper and scholarship reviews, which are confidential; and a response to the Dean’s latest questions on the
research opportunities for all initiative, which I posted. I also wrote a bunch  of email messages.
I did not achieve much of the writing I intended for this series. I had expected to write more profiles. I did not write them. I had expected to write more essays on C and Unix. I wrote a few, but not many. So, while I might benefit from making a plan on what kinds of writing to work on in the coming month, the odds are high that I would fail to achieve that plan. I could try a new genre, such as book reviews. I could try poetry . I had considered fiction, but that’s more appropriate for NaNoWriMo .
Maybe I’ll go back to ranting about assorted things. That seems like an appropriate approach for a curmudgeon like me who is old, fat, tired, and grumpy. I know that a reasonably large subset of my readers enjoys those rants. But I’m not sure that it sets a good example for my readers.
We’ll see. Check back with me in a month .
 Yes, endnotes are part of the style.
 Some of my readers may wish to dispute that claim.
 All of my writing almost certainly needs more editing.
 Yes, I realize that most of you couldn’t tell.
 I am not sure how I feel about revisionist history.
 Or, as I phrased it, my muse seemed to have disappeared for spring break.
 I do realize that the C and Linux writings can serve a useful purpose. But I’d like to go beyond those.
 Grammarly suggests that I should write
fraction … is rather than
fraction … are. But the fraction still represents multiple items. The answer may appear in CMOS . I should keep a copy at home.
 The Chicago Manual of Style, not a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor.
 I should discuss that draft handbook with the SEPC when they return.
 I’m working hard to maintain the old/new terminology.
 The Hemingway editor told me that this musing had 39 adverbs when I first submitted it and that I should aim for twelve . But it counts
Grammarly as an adverb, so the count is high. Oh well, at least I only used the passive voice once, and that is in the disclaimer that
Sam’s Assorted Musings / Reflections: Eight months of daily musings by Samuel A. Rebelsky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .
 By the time I decided that I was done editing, I was down to thirty adverbs and the Hemingway editor generously told me that I should aim for thirteen. Of course, I added this endnote, which also added another adverb.
 Whoops! Now I have used the passive voice twice.
 I plan to write a separate essay on Grammarly.
 Hmmm … What’s the appropriate collective for email messages? I used
bunch, but that’s usually associated with bananas. I could write
a lot of email messages, but that’s not all that interesting. I suppose
flurry would work, since I often sent a lot at once. But I sent messages over multiple days, so perhaps I should use
flurries. If I used profanity, I suppose I could say
a load of email messages, or a variant thereof. I’ll consider using
flurries in the future.
 NaNoWriMo is
National Novel Writing Month. It is an opportunity for large numbers of people to write long pieces that very few people will read.
 Or, preferably, read along each day and form your own opinion.
Version 1.0 of 2017-03-31.