Advice for writers: Don’t call yourselves something else

A documentarian is someone who makes documentaries, right?

That’s what I’ve always thought and my favorite dictionary agrees with me, which makes it an excellent dictionary.

Some time ago, however, I came across a group for writers called Write the Docs – a “global community of people who care about documentation.”

Just a suggestion…

The people call themselves documentarians.

I get their monthly newsletter and that word bugs the hell out of me. (I know what Wiktionary says on the topic, but I don’t care and neither should you. It’s Wiktionary, for crying out loud.)

I’m sure WtD is an otherwise fine organization that meets the needs of some thousands of humans who write and edit documentation and so on. The website has lots of links that various types of writers will find valuable.

What I don’t see on the site under the “Job listings” heading are any jobs for documentarians. That use of the word may catch on more widely someday, and even land in my favorite dictionary, where you can already find documentalist.

My advice? Don’t use either of those words on your résumé if you want to find a job.

Write on,

B.J.

What I want for Christmas: a satellite, a force field, peace…

Someone asked what I want for Christmas, so here’s a list:

photo of satellite
Eye in the sky, image by PIRO4D from Pixabay 
  • My own spy satellite.
  • A force field around my bicycle to repel motor vehicles. (Two if you can swing it. One for me and one for Mrs. Smith.)
  • Peace on Earth.
  • A massive worldwide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2020.
  • A non-criminal POTUS.
  • Everyone to know the difference between tenet and tenant.
  • An end to the senseless arguments about Harvard commas, which we all know are just regular commas that are often used when they’re unnecessary.

Please be sure to reply to all so everyone knows what you’re getting me. I don’t want two satellites and no Peace on Earth.

Write on,

B.J.

Learning Gutenberg over a beer

So this, apparently, is Gutenberg. It’s time to learn something new in WordPress world. I can’t say I’m excited, but at least it will keep me out of trouble for a little while. An ice-cold Dale’s Pale Ale will be my companion for now so don’t been surprised if my typing deteriorates as we go along.

hot air ballloon
Caption goes here, something about balloons.

Everything in this new Gutenberg editor is a block, or goes in a block. My first challenge is/was to insert an image aligned right, with text wrapped around it. As you can see, I managed to figure that out. It took a couple of tries, but now that I know how to do it I’m feeling pretty good about it. (Any reason we can’t celebrate even the smallest of achievements?)

My first mistake was inserting the image on the page before I did anything else – I guess I was just being contrary, because who would do that, right? – and then trying to drag the picture into place after I added some text. There may be a way to do that, but now I see that it’s simpler to create some text and then position my cursor at the beginning of a paragraph (or somewhere else in the text) and then find insert before or insert after on the More options menu that magically appears when I move my cursor. It’s the little box with a vertical row of three dots. I imagine there’s an actual term for that but don’t really care in this context of just typing stuff to fill up space.

Each paragraph is a block on its own, as I see now after paying attention to what happens when you hit the Enter key.

Nobody I know uses drop caps, but I can see how the ability to drop a cap now and then might be worthwhile. Getting it to stay dropped takes a little experimenting, or at least it did for me. Who would have guessed that you don’t really see the effect until you move along to the next paragraph/block?

Even headings are in their own blocks.

There’s a special block for inserting quoted material, too. Nifty.

Copyright 2018 B.J. Smith

The beer can is empty now so I’m going to wrap this up. Maybe another time I’ll tell you about how I learned to set lead type by hand and printed a small book of poetry. Or maybe not. I think of that whenever I see or hear Gutenberg’s name. Same thing happens whenever I’m in Guttenberg. even though it has an extra t.

Bonus beer fact

The best place in the world to drink Dale’s Pale Ale is the Tasty Weasel, which is just a short bicycle ride from where I’m sitting right now. It don’t git no fresher.

Cheers,

B.J.

The case of the cat and the bicycle

A good editor is like a good detective. Both take note of the obvious, and both notice the things that slip by others.

Here are two examples to think about.

One

Some guy tweeted this the other day:

Two

The same guy put a bicycle in the header of his new Twitter page.

Go ahead. Take a look. Be curious.

Why a cat and why a bicycle?

A casual reader or distracted digital passerby might not ask why. It’s just a cat and just a bicycle. An experienced editor, like a good detective, wonders about the choices and the writer’s or the suspect’s reasoning.

Are the cat and the bicycle just eye-catching visuals or is there some deeper significance? Were the selections deliberate or careless?

Why those images?

In this case, a reader familiar with the writer’s work might recall the fate and symbolism of a yellow-eyed cat. The reader might also begin to wonder if the bicycle foreshadows something not yet revealed.

A skilled detective might begin to poke around.

What do you think?

B.J.