I have lots to say no matter what day it is. (It's the 11th.)
I've been sick again, and sleeping too much - very time-consuming. It doesn't seem to stop me from thinking, though. I just have to catch up with myself. I'll give you a hint of what I'm thinking about. I read John McPhee's FOURTH DRAFT yesterday. I love his writing and this book is a distillation of his approach, with examples and anecdotes and chunks of what he's been teaching at Princeton University (every third year between his New Yorker assignments). I love it, and he has triggered a few blogs which I will deal with - - slowly - in between long naps. Slowly, and soon.
NOT SO SOON, but here I am. (I am slowly disintegrating, trig to hold myself together. This helps.) I love McPhee's care for le mot juste - and he has given me a new word for the writers of blogs - blogishers. He relies, as I do, on dictionaries and thesauri for his accuracy of expression.
When I started university, I developed a method for essay-writing that carried me a long way. I would take the assignment, usually some sort of sentence to discuss in relation to the literary work at hand, and look up every word, except the or and. I found that the synonyms of the key words would give me varying points to consider, gave me, in fact, the outline of my essay. The differences were subtle enough to make some interesting distinctions. It's amazing how much I learned about words doing that, and about careful analysis.
So here is a neat pair of distinctions that McPhee offers, clarifying a confusion I had always harboured.What is the difference between "further" and "farther"? He tells us that the dictionary says "further" is "farther" and "farther" is "further'. End of discussion. Not so. There is distinction, and McPhee tells us what it is: "Farther" refers to measurable distance. "Further" is a matter of degree...You'll go no further." It made me think of the end of the first book of the Narnia series (I think it was the first book.) Remember? - "farther up and farther in". Further would never have done.
Okay, if that doesn't appeal to you, forget it. There's more.