Welcome to Metonym Miscellany! Inside these pages, you will find the musings of our current Metonym staff.   It's a wider entrance into the thoughts and interests of our editors this year.  We want to share with you our own artistic voice while we are inviting you to share yours.  Enjoy. 

Monday
Oct092017

How Nancy Drew Inspired Me to Be a Copy Editor

Source: https://www.amazon.ca/Nancy-Drew-49-Secret-Mirror/dp/0448095491I debated starting this blog with a mediocre introduction riddled with grammar mistakes to make a point about how important grammar is (especially to a literary journal), but I hated myself for it. Instead, have this: Hi, my name is Alyssa Mielke (pronounced “Milky”), and I’m lactose intolerant! I am an English major with a concentration in professional writing looking to go into copy editing, and I am also the managing editor for Metonym.

Welcome to the Metonym blog! We at Metonym are ecstatic to begin a new phase of reaching readers and to do that, we’ve decided to run a blog with posts by those in our staff. As a woman that can (and will) talk about grammar endlessly, I asked the staff if I could begin a series on grammar. I was met with a standing ovation and a few tears of joy, so, naturally, I began writing.


When I was an adolescent, I spent the majority of my time reading. In third grade, my teacher told my mom that she was amazed at how often I had my nose in a book. I even read in the silence between words in spelling tests because Mrs. Burns always gave too much time for each word. In elementary school, my series of choice was the Nancy Drew mysteries. Despite them being well-written, it was inevitable that a grammar mistake or two slipped their way through all the proofreads, and so I would mentally note the mistakes I came across. (Writing in library books was a lesser sin only to having sticky fingers while reading library books, so forgive me for not annotating as an 8-year-old. Unless you dislike writing in books. Then I’ll clarify that I only reserve it for the second read-through of deserving literature.)


The clearest memory I have of searching for mistakes in Nancy Drew stories was when I read through #49: The Secret of Mirror Bay. An old man was telling ghost stories that spanned many paragraphs, but there were no quotation marks to close his paragraphs until the very last one. I thought it was a typo until it kept reappearing and I realized that maybe I had been wrong.


Or maybe I just hadn’t been taught yet.


My paramount goal for this series is to highlight some of the less popular grammar tips. Things that will make you say “Oh, that makes sense” (in those exact words—nothing less will do). Maybe you already know most of these tips because you also adore grammar. I hope that this will be a time for you to refresh your mind. Or, maybe you don’t know the first thing about grammar except that sometimes you capitalize the first letter of brand name products and other times Apple products just like to screw with you a bit. That’s okay! That is why I’m here.


My secondary goal is to give you a break from Keith, our executive editor, and his … extensive vocabulary. If you have not yet read his blog post from earlier this week, I suggest you skim it. You will instantly feel 3% smarter with an 11% increase in your vocabulary. I certainly did. (Jokes aside, Keith is a wonderful writer and addition to our team with a brain as large as my dorm room.)


For this post, however, I want you to feel comfortable. You’ll be seeing me pop up in your newsfeed weekly, and I understand that sometimes you will want to scroll past. My writing style may not interest you, or perhaps you just despise grammar and could not care less. My hope is that after reading this, you have a good understanding of where I come from and are interested in learning how grammar is beautiful.


Take care.

Alyssa Mielke

Tuesday
Oct032017

The Importance of a Good Pen

Notes on finding and mastering voice in writing.

By Keith Cook

It has long been said, that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” even when using pithy platitudes to start a piece of writing (which we all know is against the rules). And despite perhaps the mediums having changed (pen is now more like keyboard, and sword more like gun or bomb) the original intent of the metaphor is not lost, especially on those of us who believe ourselves to be talented writers or artists. Hopefully it is obvious that because this is a metaphor it was never intended to be taken literally, if you took a pen to a medieval (or any) battlefield you would be woefully outmatched. But even the metaphor in itself has meaning that is not often explored to the fullest extent.

On that note let me transition to the subject of pens. The wonderfully permanent writing utensil, usually cylindrical in construction, made of plastic or metal (wood or feathers not terribly long ago), and filled with a tube of ink, which slowly oozes out the tip of a variably pointy end when it is scrawled against a surface.

I have always had an affinity for pens. From a young age I would covet the pens in my father’s special drawer. He was (is) a particular man, well kept and organized in thought and material aspects. We of course were not allowed in his special drawer, I never knew all the contents of his drawer (car keys, wallet, mysterious letters) but I did know that one thing in particular was in that drawer. A package of four Pilot Precise V5 Black Pens. With the upper right hand corner torn back carefully from the plastic, just enough so the first pen on the right could be taken out without disturbing its gently sardined brethren (or sistren whatever you prefer). My father in all of his peculiar neurosis could not seem to manage keeping count of how many pens were in the package until his supply dwindled. So as a young man, if I could finagle one of these little black cylindrical treasures out of the package without denting the plastic or tearing the cardboard I could usually manage to take a pen here and there and stockpile them in my backpack. Which was a rather ironic place for me to have them as I was awful in my youth at taking notes of any kind.

What I loved to do with these pens was to write in my journal. My family was not one that embraced things like “open emotional dialogue,” so writing was my first outlet of expression, and those Pilot Precise V5 pens were my most bosom friends. For years after I could not even write unless I felt their familiar weight between my thumb and middle finger. They were perfect, flying across the page with precision, recording all of my deepest emotions on bound pieces of pressed wood pulp.

This is all well and good, but what about the entire point of this essay? There are certainly an infinite number of monkeys attempting to write Shakespeare late at night under the lurid glow of hidden desk lamps and flashlights while grasping, with the ecstatic joy of a toddler, their favorite pen. So what is the point of sharing that story?

 

Because it was never about the pen itself.

 

While I am sure that this statement is not necessarily as revelatory to some as it was to me, there is something profound about the realization that the delivery method of your artistic medium is merely a middleman between the mind from which the creativity flows and the symbolic portrayal and actualization of the amalgamous ether that, until that very combustive moment, no longer exists exclusively within your consciousness.

The pen is not the thing that creates art, it is the synaptic supernova that occurs in the infinite void betwixt two nerve endings reaching outstretched in Michelangelo nonchalance for each other that creates art. So it is the mind that is mightier than the sword, it is the existential gorge that we as artists must cross, each footstep falling laboriously on a bridge of rotten and creaky wood, moss covered ropes quivering and vibrating in low eerie tones as they stretch into the mist. When I first started to write, the bridge, the gorge, the abyss, they were my masters, my pen was a double edged sword upon which I would lacerate myself. My mind was a terrible and formidable despot. I knew nothing of mastering it. I didn’t know which planks would support me, and which planks would fall from beneath my feet leaving me paralyzed in precarious suspension. And it is in this terror that so many artists live, constantly afraid of the unending descent that awaits them after just one wrong step on this bridge from thought to realization. They have mighty pens which have been weaponized against themselves. And they (we) are hacking about on pieces of paper, spilling bile and tears in the form of colored dye across the thinned out bodies of once towering trees.

The power of the pen, the mind, is not something to be trifled with. Regardless of the accuracy of the CEO model of consciousness or the more determinist model, the mind, this bridge that exists in the creative space of our mind is too powerful to simply venture onto with naive juvenile jubilance. It takes discipline to take within your hands this small cylindrical writing utensil. It carries with it the weight of your ideology, your very personage. And if you do not grasp the importance of a good pen, it may very well bury you beneath its great burden. So we must learn to traverse this bridge, confidently striding across the singing planks suspended above the darkness by humming ropes. We will grasp firmly the rough and damp strands as we grope with our eyes towards the future shrouded in mist.