kidattypewriter

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Ailments of Style

Muphry’s Law is the editorial application of the better-known Murphy’s Law. Muphry’s Law dictates that:
1. if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written;
2. if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book;
3. the stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; and
4. any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.

Muphry’s Law also dictates that, if a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you...
Acknowledgments to John Bangsund, of the Victorian Society of Editors, who first coined the term....

One law holds the arty-farty,
Cliques and claques of literati,
Hoi-polloi, and humble hacks,
Looking looking to their backs,
Feel they cannot look away
As it holds them in its sway,
One pen pricks their huff-and-puffery -
One law alone - its name is MUPHRY.

Letter writer sneers and jeers
Says a journo's full of smears,
That they're false and 'full of fuphrys' -
Oh look! My goodness me! A Muphry!

Writer, feeling twitchy twitchy,
Their editor is rather snitchy,
Ah, but soon they find recovery
For see? The ed. has made a Muphry!

Critic makes a proclamation
On a famous animation,
Writes 'Gagglemel' and 'Smrufs' and 'Smufrey' -
Muphry, Muphry, Muphry, Muphry!

Teacher writes his school reports
Full of cranky sharp retorts
But sillyish billyish, what-an-old-duffery -
He's written Muphry after Muphry.

One law holds the arty-farty,
Cliques and claques of literati,
Hoi-polloi, and humble hacks,
Looking looking to their backs,
Feel they cannot look away
As it holds them in its sway,
One pen pricks their huff-and-puffery -
One law alone - its name is MUPHRY.

6 comments:

bruce said...

Did you write that poem? Pretty good.

What about the problem where you can see the faults in everyone else's writing, but can't improve your own to the point where you give up trying to write at all, including abandoning a postgrad degree because you know you can't improve your writing...

Happened to...a friend of mine.

Mitzi G Burger said...

Aww, Bruce sounds bruised!

Writing can be rough
when you never spy a muph...

oh, got it just in time.

bruce said...

Cruisin' for a Bruisin',

Caz said...

Love the ailments, perfectly defined.

Bruce - being successful at under or over grad work is (alas) not contingent on writing skills.

Many a PhD has been awarded to the all but illiterate. Many more undergraduate degrees awarded to the blatantly illiterate and inarticulate.

Let's not even get into discussion of intellectual capabilities.

Your friend should have stuck it out. The value of the work, not the writing skills, would have been what mattered most. That he could recognise his personal deficiencies put him way ahead of the pack. Seems a pity he dropped out; the less capable no doubt continued.

bruce said...

Thanks Caz, I have noticed that too, but I think I'm actually trying to pin down a mental tic or condition. Akin to 'writer's block', but more like an unconscious solipsism - inability to judge one's own writing objectively, even if one is a competent editor of other people's work. It may be rare, or perhaps not!

Maybe it is just a lack of discipline, needing more rigorous training.

TimT said...

There's got to be a term for that condition Bruce - maybe we should invent one! Subjectivitis?

Email: timhtrain - at - yahoo.com.au

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