Backtalk plugin shut off
Until my post a few days ago I had never tried to write a lipogram. The idea filled me with ennui. It seemed so tedious. But a two-sentence comment on math.se was my gateway drug. The blog post was not originally intended to be lipogrammatic itself. But a compulsion rose in me and once I started I found I couldn't stop.
I tinkered with it for hours. I couldn't think of a way around quoting the original bounty proposal that included the letter “e” so I put it in with a flowery and lipogrammatic apology. At one point I said aloud “this is good enough and I am not going to edit it any more!” But I didn't stick to that; I kept tinkering with it, trying to get the phrasing to be more natural, the words to be better-selected.
When I finally put it aside, I found I still wasn't done. I wrote a plugin for my blog software so that when it is generating a page, on which the title of the first post mentions lipograms, it replaces the name of the blog and all the other boilerplate with e-less versions.
I can totally imagine now how someone could write an e-less novel. Then I went back to my earlier lament about having lost my first writeup, to add a link to the new writeup, and I really meant to just dash it off, but the bug got me again and it came out with no e's.
While writing up this note I felt twinges several times as I wrote words or phrases that contained e's. It is so tempting to stop and try to get rid of them. And when I do write a phrase that is e-less, or almost e-less, I feel a pull to go back and expand it into a full sentence. Just now I stopped for thirty seconds to think about
and how I should revise it to:
Oops, “identify”. Try again:
Okay, I will stop now. That was just an example. I precommitted to not turning this article into a lipogram and I am going to stick to that. It was even harder to not turn the pre-commitment itself into a lipogram, or better, to write it so that its only vowel was 'e'. But I managed. Barely.
I mentioned some of this to Rik Signes last week, and looking over the one-line addendum I started editing it again, and then:
at this point I made a major effort and finished:
I just went back to change the title of this article from
and breathed a sigh of contentment.
I truly did not know I had this in me. It's a bit frightening, and I am not going to modify that to say “scary”.
But I did change “change” to “modify”.
Someone help me, I'm sick.