In Sin and Syntax, Constance Hale writes, “In speaking and informal writing, we naturally gravitate to ‘to be’ in all its incarnations – present tense and past, active voice and passive. But a reliance on ‘to be’ is a sure sign of a novice writer.”
I am guilty. Did Shakespeare get away with ‘to be’ because he couldn’t make up his mind? For years his famous line has spurred me on “to be.” “To be” more of a writer, “to be” more of a man, “to be” more of a human. And yet, Constance declares me at the starting gate. Years of writing and being a writer, and I am a novice.
Why do I find this so disturbing? I confess, but I am not free. I find “to be ” a novice is tantamount to being boring. Or being an introvert. Wait! I now think both of those quite acceptable. Not so with “to be.” I agree with Constance. I will get it out of my system. I will read on with what she says without angst.