The writing class I was going to teach, Working Out the Wonk: Tools for Improving Your Writing, never happened. No one signed up. I think it was a timing issue. Asking people to give up five Saturday mornings in the middle of a Minnesota summer is simply asking too much. I may repackage the class into shorter, stand-alone sessions and try to offer them again during a different season. Winter would be good. It’s when most of us Minnesotans are stir-crazy and introspective.
About a month ago, when I was getting ready for the class, I posted that I had written a bad writing sample, something I could use in class for discussion. Several of my readers wondered about that sample, which I did not supply here in case anyone reading my blog was planning to take the class. (I didn’t want to blow the surprise.) Now that the class has been canceled, I present my bad writing sample:
Staplers sit on desks. They look like they will chomp you if you give them a chance. Sometimes they sit next to empty rolls of toilet paper that are sitting on the desk for no apparent reason that Sally knows, let alone Steven. You don’t know Sally or Steven and that’s the way it’s going to stay because I don’t feel like writing with them now that I’m looking at my desk and wondering when was the last time I backed up my computer data on the external hard drive and why are there so many cords here and why did the dog chew up this stack of papers right here that are important and not to be shredded? Doesn’t he know any better? Do you know any better?
They could ring the bells and no one would come running. There are long, green, tempestuous grass on the hill that they might run thru, but they are not allowed to run because someone said so. Someone, someone, said so. Ring-a-ding-ding, let’s make like a banana and split. Because who don’t like a banana split? With all them bananas and chocolate and caramel and strawberries and whipped toppings. If you eat too many, you will be sick and sick is not well. They fell into a well. That’s why they can’t run. Thru that long grass, I mean. They can’t run thru bubbles. They can’t run thru breaked glass. They can’t run thru black staplers piled ten-foot height on desks made of tomato doors.
Let’s make like a tea and leaf. Because drinks of tea are marvelous for the indigestible and for the series of tubes we all call the internet. Does anyone back up the internet on external hard drives that lie in the long grasses and weep? I don’t think so and neither do you. Hard work. These are hard works, putting words together in way-ways that make them bad. What do you think? Can you on purpose write bad? Can you say what makes badly this peace of writing? Or would you rather run through staplers stacked ten feet high?
Setting stacks of staplers aside, what makes this a bad piece of writing?
Is there any circumstance under which it might be considered a good piece of writing?