Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rubber-Stamped Adverb Quilt for Better Blogging

Writing a quilt blog over the past three years has brought me so many non-monetary riches, including:

1. Quilty cyberfriends

2. Increased production. A lame finished quilt that I can photograph for my blog is better than a lame UFO* that I can't show anyone, crammed into my Scary Shelf.

3. Shorter prose. My first year of blog entries were long. Now they're relative semaphores. This may be due to increased practice, laziness, dementia, or all three.

While musing on #3 one day, I happened across a quotation by novelist Stephen King, whose scary books I can't read, but whose writing advice rocks:

"The road to hell," he said, "is paved with adverbs."

It struck such a chord that I decided to make it into a quilt:
So** TRUE! My spoken language is utterly full of words like utterly, completely, literally, practically, and the cliche of my adopted state, the California 'totally.' On my second and third blog edits, I've learned to slash 'em, not to mention the very's and deeply's.

In researching this quilt, I plowed through** an exhausting yet non-comprehensive list of 3732 adverbs, and used the ones I most hate to love (and vice versa), sometimes on related fabric.

 I scattered scissors, delete buttons, and backspace buttons.




The last adverb in the maze is "ultimately," on a background which appears to be burning. 
There's novelty fabric galore. The "All That" faces were from a  strange thrift shop shirt.

Now**, don't panic, like DH did when he saw this quilt. "What's wrong with adverbs?" he demanded defensively. "I use them all the time! Should I feel guilty**?"

No, honey, not exactly guilty, I said, understandingly soothingly. I'm just saying that basically, anyone's writing will vastly improve if they scrutinize each word closely to see whether they really need it. On a deadline, cut the adverbs first**.

As for the technicalities - the words are, of course, rubber-stamped. There were too many to embroider, or cut out and applique individually. Adverbs tend to be ridiculously long - "ridiculously" has 12 letters,  "understandably" has 14 and, although I love it, "unconditionally" has 15.  (Update: I'm also excited to report that "unenthusiastically" has 18.) Rubber stamping brings its own drama, with a personal 25% fail rate, so I always** prefer to** stamp the fabric pieces before the quilt top is assembled.  I used Staz-on ink for permanence.

I was torn about whether to add this little guy.
I finally put him on, on the upper right.
Let me reiterate that I don't actually believe that adverbs are Satan's spawn, and I doubt Stephen King does, either. While writing this blog entry, it occurred to me that adverbs are more like dandelions. A few are fun, but a ton are a nuisance. So the last thing I added was this dandelion, to the top panel.
I attributed the quotation along the bottom - it says "Quotation by Stephen King," followed by more favorites.
Which adverbs haunt you?  

*Unfinished Object
**Unusual adverb. Really. Which ones did I miss?

42 comments:

  1. stunning idea! and the quilt as well.

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  2. I greatly enjoyed reading this blog post today. Fantastic quilt.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I forgot to use "greatly!" Dang!

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  3. You are dependably witty and thoughtful, Cathy. This quilt literally whacks me upside the head. I will undoubtedly be more aware of excessively using adverbs, primarily in my speech, but most certainly in my writing. Eventually. And the annoyingly common and growing use of adverbs as a one word sentence is basically uninspired. Seriously.

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    1. Thanks, Sherry. Undoubtedly and excessively!!! How could I forget those! I feel that "eventually" actually has meaning. I use "basically" every other minute. Glad you stopped by!

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  4. Cathy...the quilt is fine, quite fine, indeed. And reading....Ahh, it is like listening to the poetry instructor who leads our local group of poets in twice annual 6 week studies, followed by a public open mike. Looking deeply at words, does indeed make the poems better...adverbs and adjectives often push their way into the lines a dilute the message. Great post today!
    Kristin

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    1. Thank you Kristen - your poetry class sounds wonderful. Adverbs and adjectives have potential for great good and great evil!!! (OK, not great!)

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  5. Love it! How cute and fun! I hope you enjoy making your quilts as much as your readers enjoy seeing them online!

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. I did have a fabulous time making it! I could make three more - I didn't even scratch the surface with all the extraneous adverbs I use!

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  6. You are riot! I love this quilt and its oh, so hilarious description. Now you will have me looking at adverbs. Thanks for my chuckle of the day.

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  7. If I can create more suspicion of adverbs, my work here is done. (Stephen King's work, too.) Thanks, Norma!

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  8. You included the word that makes me cringe during TV interviews. The answer to every question is "Absolutely!" Not just a simple "Yes." Or a slightly more emphatic "Of course." It's got to be "Absolutely-with-an-exclamation-point."

    Dot

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    1. You are so right, Dot! I am definitely going to add absolutely to my next adverb quilt! It's like saying "honestly" and "frankly," to reassure the audience that you're not lying, as usual!

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  9. GREAT! I started several very small word quilts a few years ago. Then my life got taken over by obligations. I look forward to working on ONE quilt and finishing it.

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    1. I promise you'll have a good time, Ann. I want to see it when you're done! The hard part is figuring out how to do the lettering....

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  10. Love it Cathy! Totally individual and absolutely you!

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  11. Great quilt and funny, now I'm going to have to check my own blogposts.

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    1. Thanks, Linda. Don't get too self-conscious!!! You gotta be you!!!

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  12. lol
    I like a well placed adverb but love your sense of humor. Let's be friends girl! I need more not less humor in my life. LeeAnna at not afraid of color

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  13. what a funny and intelligent wordy post. best i have read in some time so i am virtually happy to belly laugh at how be pad our messages with dreamy fluff and such. High school English teacher circa 196something would roll with gleefully delighted vigor.

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    1. Sonja, I am having flashbacks to my middle school English teacher who taught us to diagram sentences - an activity that I was probably the only student who enjoyed! Thanks for stopping by and your nice comment!

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  14. Really (!) love how you have deliciously (!) crafted your blog post and your wicked-good anti-Candyland quilt! Only wish you might show the full size quilt photo in a larger format (much as I appreciate the detail shots). xox

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    1. Eleanor, my Blogger mentor told me I have to limit pixel size in my posts - which didn't work out well with this detailed quilt. Gotta figure out what to do about that. I don't think "deliciously" is a non-essential adverb. It actually means something! Let me know if you want me to mail you a higher-res photo.

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  15. What a great post! I am guilty as well!

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    1. Guilty can be an adverb! We must rid ourselves of unnecessary guiltyness! Thanks for stopping by, Pinkadot!

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  16. Well you can see this one has made quite an impression. I think it is my favorite one of all. Just amazing and brilliant.

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  17. I am smiling all over my face :-) Love the quilt and the post you wrote about it as well :-)

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    1. So glad I made you smile! Thanks for stopping by, Jody!!!

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  18. Reminds me of this old bit from Firesign Theater:
    "(fog horn)

    ANNOUNCER

    Los Angeles... He walks again by night...

    NICK

    (whistles)

    ANNOUNCER

    Out of the fog, into the smog...

    NICK

    (cough, cough)

    ANNOUNCER

    Relentlessly... ruthlessly...

    NICK

    I wonder where Ruth is?

    ANNOUNCER

    …doggedly… (bark bark)"

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    1. That is seriously hilarious, wlstarn!!! I haven't thought about Firesign theater in so long! Now I've got to look it up! I love this segment, thank you so much for it!!!

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  19. I do hope you sent Stephen King a link the this. He's my favorite author and I think he'd find this to be a hoot!
    I think his actual title might be 'king of the adverbs'

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    1. Does he use a lot of adverbs? Really? I put it on Stephen King's FB page, but it vanished shortly thereafter. I'd love to know how to get in touch with him! I need to buy his book on writing. I'm guessing that's where the quotation came from. Thanks so much, Gisela!

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  20. Alright, I don't think my first comment went through. Sorry. What I wanted to say, Cathy, is that I love your humor and your blog writings always make me smile. I admire you and LeeAnna so much. Your blog postings are always make me smile. Ya'll are so clever. Thanks for the grin today. Maggie

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    1. Thank you, Maggie. I wish you, me and Lee Anna could meet in the fabric district weekly!

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  21. Loved your adverb quilt...with a stylistic nod to commentative quilter Jean Ray Laury, it is a gem.

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    1. LynDee, you are so right, it didn't occur to me - I am walking in the footsteps of the late great Jean Ray Laury's - check out this one: http://www.quiltersnewsletter.com/blogs/insideqn/files/2011/12/QNMP-120100-JeanRayLaury.jpg. That and others do look rubber stamped to me. She uses lots of word balloons, too!

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  22. Hopefully (!) you won't mind my suggesting one adverb that is not only overused but wrongly used, at least according to the grammar police.

    Delightful idea and great quilt, and oh, by the way, Kay says hi!

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    1. Hopefully is a good one. I use it all the time! Love to Kay!!!

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  23. I love the quilt, Cathy. It appeals to my sense of the ridiculous. I enjoy seeing all the quilts you show on your blog. Hubby and I are California born and bred, until we moved to Arizona 10 years ago. I know we were taught proper English many, many years ago. It drives me crazy to see how 'lazy' (for lack of a better word) some people have become in both the spoken and written word. Am I the only one who spells out words in my texts? At least, I do for the most part

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    1. Thank you so much, Paule-Marie! I do very little texting (though my teen is training me to do more), so I spell everything out too! It's a new world. I predict the dictionary in 10 years is going to have a texting subdivision....(Of course, all dictionaries will be online by then!) Thanks so much for your message!

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