Anniversary! (Mistake #42)

It is the anniversary of this blog. On 28th February 2010 I made this deposit on the blogosphere – and I refused to clean it up. Gratitude eternal to first-writer-to-comment Lorraine Mace for posting what she posted and not, say, ‘Sigh. Not another writing blog.’

So, ‘anniversary’. ‘The date on which something occurred in a previous year’ is how my Collins defines the word, so the first such date can be safely termed the first anniversary, and the second, the second anniversary, and so forth ad infinitum.

Strictly, then, a term such as ‘three-year anniversary’ is not quite right; after all, you’d never describe such a date as the ‘three-year date’. Just go with ‘third anniversary’ – it’s sharp and simple and correct.

Now then. From this tiny mistake to reach our next one on the error map requires a leap so athletic you may like to warm up beforehand to spare yourself a groin-related mishap. You will be required to hurdle a sign reading ‘The Earth is Flat’ and you will land in a place called Wrongville, the administrative capital of Cockup County, where you will encounter expressions in the local dialect such as – take a deep breath, it could be your last so you’ll be wanting a big one – “six-month anniversary”.

Allow me to put this on record before the convulsions take hold: I can’t remember a single incidence of such an error among my students. Perhaps I’m drunk on some self-satisfied anniversary high, but I refuse to believe aspiring writers would ever do such a thing. Though if you have made this mistake, or do make it, I refuse to blame you or roll my eyes at you, because it’s so frighteningly common it would be easy to suppose it’s acceptable. Google it and you’ll see too many examples, among them efforts from the Guardian and BBC, both of whom should know better. Let’s point at them, while we all feel smugly superior for a bit.

You’ve been with me a while, I credit you with wisdom, and you won’t need me to explain why six-month anniversaries, by definition, cannot exist. We should allow them only in speech, from the mouths of giggly courting couples alone, provided they are sixteen-year-olds or under, and for whom a ‘sixth mensiversary’ (no, I’m not expecting it to catch on either) is probably a significant milestone.

Anniversaries offer a rich source of ideas and potential writing opportunities, but a date six months on is rarely considered one worthy of remarking on in print – unless it’s the mid-way mark to some notable one-year target or endeavour, at which point a half-time reflection may be appropriate. Just don’t call it what I’m begging you not to call it.

Summary tip, then: use ‘anniversary’ as you might ‘birthday’. Nobody says one-year birthday or six-month birthday for a reason.

Right. I want to give a group thanks for reading, following, commenting on and linking to this blog. It’s been as valuable and fun a year for me as I hope it has been for you. I’ve had some welcome appreciative emails too, some suggesting I turn the blog’s central idea into a book. You’ll be either glad, or indifferent, or distressed to the point of actual tears to learn that I’m actively looking into this, and will share any news if and when it presents itself.

For my second year in office I can promise more errors. But I may digress occasionally from them as there are a few issues I’d like to tackle – most urgently, I feel, copyright-grabbing writing competitions – which might not lend themselves tidily to the regular ‘mistake’ format. I hope to do occasional book reviews too. Whether I can suppress the control freak in me to permit a guest blogger remains to be seen…

Again: onwards!

Comments 15

  • Yes, Alex, not continuing with this blog would be a mistake! Here's to another successful blogging year … and also the book which must surely follow!

  • Option 1: Glad – yes, because the book will hopefully be as useful as the blog 🙂
    Option 3: Distressed to tears – yes, because I have no money left after following advice in Mistake no.17 post :-/

  • The date of this post coincided with my sixth wedding anniversary. (I mean, sixth anniversary of my one and only wedding.) How delightful to know that as you made a deposit, I celebrated a return on mine! 😉

    Thank you for posting some really great stuff over the year. Given that I have submitted few WB assignments, I have learned more here than through the corrected assignments! Thank you once again for being a fab tutor. I hope you continue finding inspiration for this blog and future book, and I pray that my assignments never give you any material for either!

  • "Chink" I raise a glass to yours and toast to a successful second year 🙂

  • What terrific readers I have! Thanks, all!

  • Happy Anniversary!
    Don't even think about stopping – and a book would be great. I've learnt such a lot from your blog already Alex – and I look forward to picking up more useful hints and tips between now and its third anniversary.

    (I sent my daughter a link to your blog as she was telling me on the phone last night that her and her boyfriend are going out for their '4 month anniversary dinner' tomorrow night. Tut, tut!)

  • Blimey – a 'third' anniversary is another two years! Don't know if I can think *that* far ahead – but thanks for the vote of confidence!

  • Oops! Thought it was your second. I've only been reading your blog for a few weeks but it obviously feels like longer!

  • Ha – not sure whether that's good or bad!

  • Happy anniversary and thanks for a great blog!

  • Happy first anniversary and twelfth mensiversary or whatever it is you called it (my Latin's not up to scratch).

    This is a great blog and I've really enjoyed it over the past year. Do keep it up! I'll look forward to the book of the blog in due course as well.

    I'd definitely appreciate a post on copyright-grabbing competitions as I think they are despicable. Sadly some of the competitions run by women's magazines in the past have been copyright grabbers.

  • Thanks Womag – that's much appreciated.

  • Happy Anniversary, Alex and thanks for all the useful information you've posted over the past year. I only found you a couple of months ago so have been busy reading all the back posts to catch up.

    I definitely think you've earned a Stylish Blogger Award, though with all your other committments, you probably won't have time to do the necessary. (details on my blog)

    Keep up the good work! I look forward to another year of reading.

  • Thanks, Gail. I think another reader may have already beaten you to giving me a SBA, but it's appreciated nonetheless!

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