Day 20: No-no words

A writer-friend introduced me to a new concept: the no-no word.

That’s a word you’re not allowed to use when you write.

She assigned her elementary students a composition, then told them they were not allowed to use the word was.

There’s a lot of talk going around about was these days. Several bloggers have written about the advisability of using it, and one of my online discussion groups examined the issue.

Should writers use was?

The answer to that question, I believe, is, It depends.

If I can find a more active or specific or colorful word, or a better construction, I use it. If I can’t, I write was.

When my teacher-writer-friend termed was a no-no word, however, and described the restrictions she had put on her students, I decided to step up to the challenge.

I stepped up.

I wrote.

I stepped down.

It was an enlightening ordeal.

Will I post the result?




The image of No made out of jigsaw puzzle pieces used courtesy of Horia Varlan via Flickr, under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic license.

Day 19: Worrying about Harry

Last week, I worried about Harry. Now it’s Harry and the whole of London.

Based on reason, experience, and the fact that MI5 is neither science- nor speculative fiction, I presume London and the majority of its inhabitants will survive.

Harry I’m not sure about.

That is darned good writing.


I wrote the Harry passage last night. I intended to post it last night. But I didn’t.

I would offer a legitimate reason for breaking my promise to post every day in November, but–

The truth is, I got bogged down.

After writing about Harry, I inserted an attractive divider (see ~~~ above) and addressed a second topic. I intended a series of brief observations connected only by their brilliance.

I never got to topic #3. In just minutes I saw that even brilliant observations can reek.

So I cut the part about Harry, saved it for another post, and continued writing about topic #2.

I wrote, deleted, wrote, deleted, wrote…

After a while, it seemed a good time to look for a photograph.

I used to post text only. But those posts reminded me of the websites about writing that cropped up back in the 90s: words, words, words, no graphics, just words all over the page. It was obvious they’d been designed by people who hadn’t become accustomed to reading graphics.

In other words, people like me. But now, a surfer of some sophistication, I like to throw in an image here and there.

So, interrupting the sequence of write-deletes, I went in pursuit of the perfect picture.

So many choices, none of them acceptable.

By the time the search ended, the clock had struck midnight. November 19 was gone.

After eighteen consecutive days of posting, I had slipped.

Worse yet, it wasn’t the first time. Day 18 was posted after midnight on Day 19. Day 17 was posted on Day 18. Day 16 was posted on Day 17.

I won’t belabor the point.

My only consolation is that, although I have not posted every single day, by the end of November 20, I will have put up twenty posts.

If I hurry.


P.S. London is fine. Harry, however, is in a pickle.


Image of Freemasons’ Hall, London courtesy of damo1977 via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Freemasons’ Hall stands in for Thames House, home of MI5, in the TV series MI5 (Spooks).