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05 June 2009 @ 11:42 pm
Hallelujah and saints be praised!  
It is a long weekend, and I have no work work to do. At last, I can get stuck in and clean the house, beta fics, write and read (and suttonwriter  and wemyss , the two of you are at the top of my list for essay reading! Fingers crossed I can finally get to them, it might be laptop in the cafe over breakfast time, I shall wear fake glasses pretend I work for Google!)

This is a welcome relief as I have spent the last month half doing the most pleasurable part of my ever-changing job, which is writing and talking about gardens and gardening, and half doing the least, which is editing craft.

Now most people think that editing craft would be easy, after all, you are making a thing, and the instructions for that thing are very easy and obvious. The problem is threefold: firstly, craft writers leave out steps because they believe them to be obvious, while readers do not; secondly, craft writers are generally innumerate for some odd reason, providing dimensions for parts that cannot construct the three-dimensional object desired or confusing units, especially when converting from Imperial to metric; thirdly, many craft writers have sniffed far too much craft glue and so write things like 'now open out the tube and take the bottom edge and fold it inside at 6cm just like it was a present to form the bottom of the bag.' I dare you to understand that on first reading.

Because I like and enjoy craft, and consider it both a civilising and humanist pursuit, I spend hours and sometimes days making sense of all this, so that the four people who ever want to actually make these projects can do so with ease and guaranteed success. But it is just as well I work in print and not television, as the finished product in my medium is lovely, polished prose with accurate illustrations and dimensions. In television, it would consist of me holding up the object to the camera and saying: 'Today we'll be making this marvellous little shopping tote with fashion-forward button decorations. And it's so easy, anyone can do it. Just ... just hold on a second while I ignore these completely fuckwitted instructions on the teleprompter and work out how the thing is actually put together. Right, okay, you start like this ... and I am going to punch someone when we're through here.'

I would mind less if sometimes the original writers did not sometimes insist that my imposition of reality is mean and cruel. My co-workers are masterful at restraining their giggles when they hear me say things like: 'Yes, I did see that you wanted to have 60 stitches to 10cm, but you are using 12 ply wool and it's physically impossible to fit that many on the needle. Also, doing the maths, you would end up with a 3.4-metre-long cushion.'

Colleagues often wonder if I am feeling a lack of intellectual challenge slumming it in the world of homewares this year. Let me tell you: the Global Financial Crisis, disintegration of the Brown government and the scuttling of Chinese mining interets in Rio Tinto are all A DODDLE compared to the average cable-knit jumper. (And pay 75% the rates with 115% of the hours.)

In other news, I have nearly finished an essay on writing for the gorgeous georgia_hawkins . I am thinking it might be a good idea to post here, since it ended up four times longer than I meant it to be.

Poll #1411482 Brammers lengthy blather on writing

A post by Brammers on writing would be

Helpful, people pay her for this and she's suffered through years in the industry, so I assume she actually knows useful things
Interesting, it's always good to look at the process through other eyes
An obvious ploy to curry favour and distract from the fact she's not posted fic lately
Possibly a bit of a wanky indulgence, but let's be honest, when has that ever stopped her?
Oh bloody hell, she's talking about herself in the third person again. Brammers, you're not Quentin Crisp!

And now, off to catch up with European politics. What were they thinking in the Netherlands?

PS If you're thinking 'Why did she not have a drop-down question in that quiz that said 'Sod writing, I would like to know what to do about this problem in my garden ...' feel free to ask in a comment! Craft questions will be entertained on a case-by-case basis.

Bryoneybryoneybrynn on June 5th, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
YES! I love being first on a poll - 100% agreement. My opinion is GOD! lol
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
YAY! And you, unlike some people (MAGGIE!) did not tick the wanker box, for which I thank you.
trichinopoly ash: dr. manhattan: pretty awesomealdehyde on June 5th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
brammers, can you teach me how not to use emoticons so much? i feel as if my statements on the interwebz will be misunderstood unless i have some kind of smiley face attached to them :( <-- SEE! gaaaaaaaah.

craft writers leave out steps because they believe them to be obvious, while readers do not

sounds like one of my mum's recipes! heh ;)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC)
Oh, don't get me started on food writers!

Dear aldehyde,
Emoticons, like typos, are perfectly acceptable in fast and informal media such as LJ, Twitter and personal email. However, you may want to consider mixing them up with a few more complex phrases to introduce variety and interest in your writing. Consider the odd inclusion from the following selection:
Oh, for fuck's sake
... obviously this is irony ...
I love you
This brings me joy
You are clearly a lunatic
I am so confused

Bemusement does not begin to cover it

I have not covered all emoticon situations, but hope that this basic list will serve as a start to your experiments in lengthier postings. Good luck!

Miss Brammers
(no subject) - adores_draco on June 5th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - adores_draco on June 5th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
This Girlthisgirl_is on June 5th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
An Brammers essay on writing would be super-helpful, because I feel like I am closing my eyes, taking a running leap and hoping for the best when I write. If it includes a section on something like outlining, or plotting a story BEFORE you write it, I will... well, I will use it next time I start a story. *looks at flaily drafts in file* *buries face in hands*

Gardening question (since you offered): I have dry but poorly drained heavy clay soil that apparently eats bulbs. Now that a professional has cleared all of the weeds and self-sown trees out of it, it is a big garden - what do I do with it? (Apart from setting up my sun lounger.)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
part one
Ooh! I can help with the second part of this immediately!

Clay soils are the bane of most gardeners as they have the annoying habit of both holding water enough to rot plant roots and bulbs, and also being able to dry out to the point that they could be used as the setting for an Australian road movie.

On the upside, clay soils are almost always nutrient rich, it's just a matter of being able to alter the soil structure to the point that it's conducive to happy plant life.

There are any number of ways that you can do this. I am operating under the assumptions that you do not have a massive budget and that you do not want to do an enormous amount of work.

Happily, clay soils should not be heavily dug, so you've saved a load of work there. Because the soil particles are very fine and 'sticky', digging will collapse what little air spaces there are between the particles. So your garden is perfect for a no-dig approach. What you need to do is to add loads of organic matter and increase the soil biota to a point that it starts to turn from clay to loam on its own.

Start by using a claybreaker. Scattering garden gypsum is traditional and cheap. It's pH neutral and can just be cast over the soil at the rates on the packaging and then watered in. Takes a little while to work and the dust can be unpleasant to work with (it's harmless unless it gets in your eyes, wear safety glasses, and you can wear a mask if you like, though it has no warnings on inhalation or ingestion), but easily the best value for money. If your soil is waterlogged due to rain, this is the product to choose.

For a slightly faster and much easier to use product, there are a range of clip-on claybreakers that attach to your hose and can just be sprayed over the area. These can often be purchased in multi-packs at a good price, but do take a look at the suggested area covered, as it can be a fair bit less than the garden area you need to treat and you may need to buy several. They're absolutely foolproof to use, and over-application is not really a problem (aside from the waste, same goes for gypsum).

You will need to repeat this a few times in the first year and possibly annually thereafter depending on how your soil rehab goes. Now it's time to add rich organic matter.

Anything that is organic, nutrient-rich and well-rotted will do (essentially, it's all types of compost, even though only some are labelled as such). You can go for compost, stable manure, cow or sheep manure, leaf litter, agricultural byproduct such as composted sugar cane pulp, composted chicken manure ... whatever you can get in bulk.

And when I say bulk, I mean bulk, ideally we're talking tonnes. Don't balk at the idea: you can often purchase very cheap compost in large quantities from your council, and I have seen products that cost A$10 for 30L sold at A$60/tonne. As a rule of thumb, you want a depth at of least 4 inches (10cm), though you could easily double that. Calculate the area and multiply by depth for the volume, most suppliers should be able to convert that into weight.

If you are not sure of local suppliers, ring your council, any local community gardens or any local landscaping suppliers for recommendations. Check the price of delivery, too, as it even for smaller amounts it can be cheaper to have it delivered loose than bought packaged.
part two - blamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part two - thisgirl_is on June 5th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part two - blamebrampton on June 6th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part two - thisgirl_is on June 6th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
inamacinamac on June 5th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
many craft writers have sniffed far too much craft glue

In the days of duplicator fanzine publishing we used to blame a lot on sniffing too much correction fluid...

And speaking as someone who, when asked at school to write instructions for mowing the lawn, submitted 10 pages starting with instructions on the correct height to set the mower blades, I could probaby use some ideas on brevity.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
Erm ... *points above*

Though I have done a 500-word mowing story that covered most bases ;-)

And oh the Roneo fluid ...
Admiral of Strange Shipsnoeon on June 5th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
I think a post on cable knit jumpers would be fascinating as well.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
NO! The horror! The horror! (Though if you are genuinely interested, there are a few good pattern books I can recommend that are available from amazon.uk (which I think is less evil than American Amazon but am not sure ...))
(no subject) - noeon on June 5th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - noeon on June 5th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - noeon on June 5th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - noeon on June 5th, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 05:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - noe_fic on June 5th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Heather: Flowersfaynia on June 5th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
And now, off to catch up with European politics. What were they thinking in the Netherlands?

I don't know what they were thinking!!! Since finding news that takes place outside our country and doesn't involve something exploding and/or being destroyed in a very physical unpleasant way is exceptionally hard because it does not end up on the only news I accidentally see when I leave my TV on late at night. XD

blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
They have elected a number of far-right delegates to the European Union: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/elections/article6434628.ece

And did you know that your President is a rock star and has delivered one of the finest speeches I have heard in my lifetime? http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6430692.ece
(no subject) - faynia on June 5th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - faynia on June 5th, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on June 5th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - faynia on June 5th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
heatherjm on June 5th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
I feel your pain with the craft editing :-) I do technical editing of knitting patterns, and while I am more choosey now about who I work with I saw some really boggling patterns when I worked on a mag. My favourite has to be the cardi where the pattern bore no relation at all to the knitted garment, and there was no way on earth that as written the sleeve would have fitted into the arm hole. Oh happy days.

On the gardening front do you have any tips on how to get rid of mare's tail / horse tail (no idea what the real name is I'm afraid), short of napalm or moving house?

I shall go back to being a dreadful lurkity lurker now.

PS. Are you on Ravelry.com?
Kieranfilmatleven on June 5th, 2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
All of the above? =P

Though, I must admit, I find you talking in the 3rd person to be charming and quite amusing. =P
cassie_blackcassie_black12 on June 5th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Hmm, not sure about the Netherlands, but I am still baffled by what the people of the England are doing electing BNP councillors - The town next to where I live now proudly has one.

As the only gardening I do is virtual, I have no further questions. But I would definitely be interested in an essay on writing from you. Would be nice to read from the perspective of someone who knows what they're talking about, rather than bumbling around in the dark, as I do!
suttonwriter: teddysuttonwriter on June 5th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
Now most people think that editing craft would be easy, after all, you are making a thing, and the instructions for that thing are very easy and obvious. The problem is threefold: firstly, craft writers leave out steps because they believe them to be obvious, while readers do not. . .

When I teach technical writing, my class does an in-class assignment that dissuades them of the belief that instructions are simple to write. I give them 15 minutes to write directions for making a peanut butter sandwich for someone whose culture doesn't have sandwiches or twist-top jars. Then either I or the most literal (read smart-ass) student in the class will try to follow those who volunteer to read those. I bring in bread, a knife, and peanut butter. In one case, the student couldn't even open the jar; the writer didn't say to hold the jar while unscrewing the lid. (In interests of full disclosure, I must admit I stole this activity from someone else). It usually gets the point across.

As far as the poll goes, I selected the first two. I like reading writers who talk about writing. Plus, it gives me one more source I can send students to.

At last, I can get stuck in and clean the house, beta fics, write and read (and [info]suttonwriter and [info]wemyss , the two of you are at the top of my list for essay reading!

Are you talking about reading some of my stuff? If so, thank you in advance.
bare_memabonwitch on June 5th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
Hmm, need a poll option for "Amusing, because everything Brammers writes invariable is."
Rosefourth_rose on June 5th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
And now, off to catch up with European politics.

For the sake of your long happy weekend: don't. I'm afraid the Netherlands result will still look good compared to what is going to happen in several other countries, mine included. *gags*
shu_shu_sleepsshu_shu_sleeps on June 5th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
So now you have me intrigued - you need to send me an email (communication - my god what's that!) telling me about what you are doing these days post Bulletin.
maya231maya231 on June 5th, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC)
I guess I didn't pick up on this before but it sounds like you are in publishing? Books, magazines, or newspapers? If I am too nosy, feel free to ignore. I would love to read anything you write about writing! And also about working in publishing, about which I know little and am curious.
kayleigh_jane: facepalmkayleigh_jane on June 6th, 2009 07:38 am (UTC)
What were they thinking in the Netherlands?

Some of us were not thinking at all, it appears. The weird thing is that the far right got four seats, central right has five, and the left has eleven seats. The other five seats are scattered. They'll have to work together, which is not something the PVV is capable of. Generating a lot of hot air, yes, saying something constructive, no.

I honestly don't fear the PVV getting to power in the Netherlands. No other party will work with them, they'll never get half of the votes at the next election and even so that 'coalition' will fall in a month. It'll be like after the death of Pim Fortuyn; a lot of votes, a lot of noise, but nothing real or lasting.