Writing pedestrian prose won’t make you a rich woman

I stumbled across a travel blog maintained by an “award-winning journalist and author” named Claire Walter, and while reading one of her posts I was struck by a comment made about “pedestrian prose”. It got me wondering if that’s why I made only 5 cents out of my blogs yesterday, thirty-two cents the day before yesterday and eleven cents the day before that. Is my “pedestrian” style of writing the reason I can’t seem to achieve my rich bitch goals?

Claire Walter’s writing cannot be called pedestrian by any means. It is obvious when reading her posts that they were written by someone who knows how to construct a sentence and who has a good few non-pedestrian words like schadenfreude in her vocabulary. She’s a published author with a long list of works to her credit and quite an impressive resume. I quite like the style of writing on her blogs, but what I like most about it is the informality, which seems to me to be the same style of writing Claire appears to criticize in her post where she talks about “pedestrian prose”. Indeed Claire Walter’s writing skills are superior to the majority of bloggers around the Internet, but to dismiss the contributions of less acclaimed writers as “pedestrian prose” is rather unkind I think.

Bloggers guilty of writing “pedestrian prose” are just trying to share their stories. They might not be able to use the word schadenfreude in a sentence or know that it means taking pleasure in other people’s miseries without looking it up; but if you say schadenfreude and I say “taking pleasure in other people’s miseries”, are we not saying the same thing? Furthermore, if more people understand what is meant by “taking pleasure in other people’s miseries” and fewer people have a clue what schadenfreude means, since the purpose of writing is to convey a thought to a reader that the reader understands, is it not better for everyone concerned to say something in a manner that can be understood by all instead of by one? I’m just asking.

I’m not attacking Claire Walter by any means. I’m quite impressed by her. She seems like a very interesting woman. She’s a great writer. She scuba dives, snowboards and skis. She’s well traveled. She’s also clearly well educated, but she doesn’t appear to take herself as seriously as some accomplished writers who consider blogs to be the domain of mediocre writers who can’t get published otherwise. Her blogs are down to earth and not pretentious. In her defense, words like schadenfreude don’t appear too frequently and her use of the word in her post about the Lehman Brothers building in Manhattan was perfect (Tourists Gawk at Lehman Bros. HQ). Claire doesn’t appear to be one of those writers who writes for the purpose of showing how great a writer she is and what an impressive vocabulary she possesses. She seems to write to share her passions, and it’s just the good fortune of the reader that she’s skilled at writing on top of having interesting stories to share. You can’t beat a combination of smarts and talent; and that brings me back to my original question: am I failing because I am not smart enough to be interesting or talented enough to be effective? Is my “pedestrian prose” combined with the obvious absense of a PhD the reason I can’t seem to interest more than forty people per day in anything I have to say?

Leave a Reply