Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blogging Lapses, and Lions and Reading Levels

I haven't written much on this blog for a long time, as you probably have noticed if you happen to visit here.

Part of it is that there are so many positively great blogs out there. Too many to read them all. There's not really a necessity for one more. Every time I load up the blank typing screen, that's what I start thinking, and it freezes up my writing.

Of course, there's another way to think about it. A blog is like a personal journal or book or essay depository accessible to others. The number of blogs out there doesn't matter so much, in that perspective.

That's how I've been trying to think of it recently. I would really like to start writing here again.

By the way......

It occurred to me just now that my last post with the readability test might look like bragging. And ever since then I've been squirming, wondering whether to delete it altogether. But really, it is not. It's not bragging, and I will prove it. I thought it was amusing that Love2Learn Mom's daughter's blog scored at a higher level than hers, and then when my daughter and I came through with the same disparity, I thought it was even more amusing for the same reason.

But now look at this blog, The Window in the Garden Wall, which is daily quotes from CS Lewis's writing. When I put that link into the readability test, it came up as Elementary level. You see, while there's a place for Genius blogs like my daughter's (BWG) that doesn't mean that "Elementariness" isn't a definite virtue, either.

Flannery O'Connor's blog If Flannery HAd a BLog also has an elementary readability level. Lewis and O'Connor are two of the best modern stylists I can think of.

The daily GK Chesterton blog has a high school reading level. Chesterton's style is unique and can hardly be categorized, but is marvelously vivid and effective.

This blog, John Henry Newman, which is about Newman, with plenty of quotes from his work, gets a college/postgraduate readability. I thought it might. Newman is a first rate stylist, too, but much more in the Ciceronian than the plain style.

And so on.

By the way, if you go to the CS Lewis blog I linked to above, you will find on the sidebar what Aidan describes as "A Lion Toilet!!" (imagine a tone of delight).

I think that's the right note upon which to end this post. Aidan always has the best turn of phrase. If he wrote a blog, I cannot even propose what level of readability he would land at.

5 comments:

Mama Squirrel said...

I had no idea Flannery O'Connor and G.K. Chesterton had blogs. Cool. I'll link.

Milehimama said...

Well, that makes me feel better! My blog rated at elementary level and I was too embarrassed to post that!

Melanie B said...

I wonder what criteria that test uses. Does it look at sentence structure, vocabulary, grammatical errors? Does it really use objective criteria or does it randomly assign a rating? Until and unless I know how the score was generated, I look at it as mildly amusing; but don't place any weight in it's determination.

Willa said...

Absolutely, Melanie.
There used to be a grade-level readability scoring on Microsoft Word. I don't know if there still is one because we use Open Office now.

Anyway, we used to entertain ourselves by scoring the readability level of different passages we copied in from different authors. I didn't take the quiz seriously until I started agonizing about the bragging thing -- so my point is that readability levels, however they are determined, don't have much to do with quality of writing. Even supposing they could be determined accurately, the style will be determined by the purpose.

Personally, my goal is to try to bring mine to high school level : ).

Dominion Family said...

Willa,
When I first did the test I came out JR High and I was a bit appalled and then I did a couple Richard Weaver posts that seemed pretty heady and redid the test and found out I had even dropped to elementary. Your info is very comforting. I frequently have people tell me they don't read my blog because it is too intellectual so I don't know which end is up.