Was Shakespeare wrong about names and roses?

I’m terrible at naming things.

I’m not merely being hard on myself; I have a lot of proof. I truly suck at naming stuff, even cats. (My pet cats have been named Nigel and Jane, like the offspring of a timid vicar’s daughter in rural Derbyshire.) My last two newsletters were called “Exquisite Ephemera” and “Bombastic Frippery” (yikes), and I once had a website called “Perverse Osmosis,” which was mostly about poetry and not, to the disappointment of many, some kind of science-y porn site. Good times.

Anyway, when I moved my newsletter, I also opted to rename it. I didn’t follow my instincts for once. I forced myself to be reasonable and came up with an easy-to-spell name without any three-syllable words. I wanted it to be simple yet also personally meaningful and memorable. I tried, okay? I put in some effort. And maybe you don’t like the name (that’s fair), but you have to admit “Well-Dressed Prose” sounds better than its predecessors.

I suppose the “prose” part is self-explanatory, but why “well-dressed”? Well, I am obsessed with clothing. It’s my primary special interest. “Well-dressed” makes sense on that level alone,  but I also meant something more.

For me, writing and getting dressed are both forms of communication. Even if my favorite clothes aren’t especially flashy, they still say something about me. My outfits convey different moods or represent various aspects of myself. I aim for a balance of comfort and style in day-to-day life, and I strive to dress appropriately while still representing my particular aesthetic preferences.

I believe I write the same way.

I may not pen the most graceful, eye-catching prose in the world, but I do get my point across. Sometimes, I write in an elegant and elevated way, and sometimes, I only type up the equivalent of a black t-shirt and blue jeans. That’s fine; you probably wouldn’t wear a ball gown to the supermarket. I try to communicate as clearly as possible without sacrificing my unique style. I know parenthetical phrases and weird compound sentences are considered poor writing choices (Grammarly gives me hell every time), but they’re how I think, so they still sometimes end up on the page. Think of these quirks as linguistic pattern clashing or written maximalism.

Sometimes, my prose dresses like it’s going to the Met Gala, and sometimes, its quiet workaday charm and flashes of color say more simply what I mean that day. In my opinion, both a person and their words can be well-dressed in either mode.

I’ve been reading trash, friends. I’m always reading trash. Trash forever! I’m just a literary trash panda pawing through the wheelie bin of pop culture. However, I don’t have a trashy book to recommend this time because I’ve been suffering through a run of true mediocrity. Even the sewing book I read last week was filled with egregious fashion crimes! At least with a string of books this meh and this lengthy, you know the tide will turn soon. Surely.


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