Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011: An Active Life

When I was in high school, I regularly participated in student journalism competitions. Yes, there is such a thing as competitive journalism. One year in particular, at a local competition at Fresno State, I thought I wrote a killer feature article. To where I was convinced I was going to win. As I recall, it was about the Gandhi statue that lives on the campus.

I felt so good about things that a friend and I went speed bowling. I think that may have been the only time I ever broke 100, and I did so in under ten minutes. I'm a terrible bowler.

Imagine my surprise when they called out the top three finishers in features, and none of those names were mine. It turns out the judges' notes on my article said I used the passive voice too often, a big no-no in journalistic writing. Up until then, I had no idea what passive voice even was, let alone how to avoid it. But now I know.

Basically, in the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. In the passive voice, the subject just sits back and takes whatever the object throws at him. For example:
Active: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Passive: The lazy dog was jumped over by the quick brown fox. 
As an editor, when I get a manuscript written entirely in the passive voice, I kind of want to cry. Recasting passive sentences into the active voice is a tedious, time-consuming process that often seems never ending. But the end result is always worth the effort.

What does this have to do with my goals for 2011? Well, it turns out I live a pretty passive life. I know how to dream big, but I haven't figured out to how to work to make those dreams realities. So that's what I want to do this year. More examples:

  • How often do I sit and watch TV, read blogs, or re-read books (passive) when I could be writing, creating, and sharing (active)?
  • How often do I go to craft fairs/blogs/stores and say, "I could make that," (passive) when I should actually be making those things (active)?
  • How often do I eat what someone else has cooked for me (passive) when I could be increasing my talents and passion for food by creating it myself (active)?
  • How much extra time do I spend lying in bed (passive) when I could be spending that time exercising, studying the scriptures, or making a healthy breakfast (active)?
  • How long have I been waiting to be loved (passive) instead of looking for the one who might be waiting for me to love him (active)?

So 2011 is the year I edit my time, recast some sentences, and basically just make my life read better. It'll be tricky and it'll likely be tedious, but I'm utterly confident the end result will be totally worth the effort.


Karen said...

Yay! Go Megan! (I haven't even made any goals for this year... so you're already ahead of me) =)

MOM/SUSAN said...

You may not believe this, but you have inspired me Megan. As a matter of fact, I am thinking about things I need to be thinking about and you have helped to crystalize some of my jumbled thoughts. Maybe one day I'll tell you about it, but for now, thank you. You're the best!

Miss Nesbit said...

Ummm I absolutely LOVED this blog post! You are awesome and a great example. Good luck in your endeavor to lead a less passive life!

Tess said...

What a creative and thoughtful post. I'd say you are off to a good start.

Joan said...

You are a very amazing person Megan. I would never think of you as passive...editing books, acting in plays, etc. but you have worthy and wonderful goals. May the wind be at your back.