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Writing is hard


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#21 Persona

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 12:27 PM

Darren, have you seen Chris Marker's A Grin Without a Cat?

-s.

#22 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 03:46 PM

I think I am still only the third public answer to your request for a reader, Darren. I'd be honored, being a political junkie and all. blush.gif

#23 DanBuck

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 03:51 PM

QUOTE(kenmorefield @ Jun 7 2005, 10:30 AM)
QUOTE((M)Leary @ Jun 7 2005, 10:21 AM)


And then the realization you have just written and painstakingly edited 350 pages that only 10 people will ever read.

Hope that cheers you up.

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Leary:
I 'fess that I just made that statistic up; I imagine it is somewhere close to that, but I've never seen actual research. The 50% stat was legit, though.

Peace.

Ken

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Did you guys know that 73% of all statistics are completely made up.


#24 SZPT

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 04:00 PM

QUOTE(DanBuck)
Did you guys know that 73% of all statistics are completely made up.

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And 104% are exaggerations.

#25 Jason Bortz

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 04:20 PM

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts -- for support rather than illumination." --Andrew Lang

#26 DanBuck

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 04:24 PM

That's nice. I think there is a stat about made up sources for quotes. But I'll buy this one at face value. smile.gif

#27 Darren H

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 07:16 PM

QUOTE
Darren, have you seen Chris Marker's A Grin Without a Cat?


No, I haven't. If a movie genie gave me one wish, it would probably be for a complete Marker box set with English translations and interactive features that would allow me to access background information about each and every obscure image or reference. The few films of his I've seen -- La Jetee, One Day in the Life, and The Last Bolshevik -- are all so densely constructed, I feel like I'm only scratching the most banal surface.

#28 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 09:48 PM

Darren, I must say I have always been amazed at how quickly I can fill my word count when I am writing a review about a film that I really don't care all that much about. Then again, I have to care about the films I review SOMEwhat, otherwise I just haven't got the urge to say ANYthing about it. There's a certain equilibrium there.

I have painful memories of writing my Attack of the Clones review because there was So. Much. I. Wanted. To. Say. and I was so conscious of how much attention the review might attract, and on top of everything else I had to keep it all under 1,000 words, so I wanted to make each word count, etc., etc.

Oddly enough, I wasn't as angst-ridden over Revenge of the Sith, and it flowed out of me a little more quickly -- possibly because I've ceased to care all that much about the franchise, possibly because I'd already blogged some of my thoughts (and my blog, like my posts here, never feels like a "review" as such, so I feel free to think out loud without editing or censoring myself too much).

#29 Denny Wayman

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 10:36 PM

Darren,

When I did my dissertation I found that it was so consuming that I had difficulty doing my other creative work (sermons, reviews, etc) – it consumed my mind, sleep, thoughts, conversations, perspective, etc., and so I had to "get it off me” to even survive.

I don't know if it is just apocryphal, but I have been told that Winston Churchill spoke about writing by saying "it is first a mistress, with whom we can't wait to spend time. Soon it becomes a wife that demands our attention. Finally it becomes a monster consuming your life and you must slay it and fling it to the public!"

I would love to read your work as well. The topic interests me at many levels. I, though, am not an editor/speller type of reviewer. I read for content and react to the content.

Also, I know you've been told this by your committee and every person who ever wrote a dissertation - but the most difficult part is limiting it. Your topic does sound like the equivalent of the "unified theory" for social/theological commentary.

Denny

Edited by Denny Wayman, 09 June 2005 - 06:05 PM.


#30 Darren H

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 07:32 AM

QUOTE
Your topic does sound like the equivalent of the "unified theory" for social/theological commentary.


You noticed that, too, did you? wink.gif

#31 Persona

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 09:34 AM

Darren, for the record, for all the thought that is going into your project, A Grin Without a Cat is something that might aid you a bit. It is one thing to read about the rise and fall of the new left in the late 60s, it's another thing altogether to spend three hours with its imagery.

I will admit that I saw this film and much of it escaped me. For better or worse, I have so much distrust built into me (or perhaps acquired) that I'm not as politically minded as most others around here. I didn't vote in the last election and most likely won't vote in a two-party system ever. When only two options are presented, somebody somewhere has pulled the rug over your eyes -- it is only natural for man to long for only black and white. Regardless of my inability to fully understand everything from my own political era as well as others, I know that you would appreciate A Grin Without a Cat. I saw it on a very large screen early last year and can't forget it, whether I fully latch onto it or not. Someone like you would appreciate it at an even more mature level than I can arrive at with material I freely admit that I struggle with.

If you ever get the chance, don't pass it up.

-s.

Edited by stef, 08 June 2005 - 09:36 AM.


#32 M. Leary

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 04:51 PM

I would have a hard choice between this or Histoire(s) du Cinema on DVD. I would probably go with the latter. This apparently has nothing to do with this thread though.

#33 TedK

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 11:29 AM

Hi Darren,

I went through the same thing when finishing my Master's Thesis. My advisor at one point just yelled at me and told me to stop stockpiling research and do some writing. I also try to write plays and end up researching the subjects endlessly and have to push myself to write.

I read an interesting article recently bout the 14th myths of great writing. Most of the myths stated were that writing well was a result of various emotional states
one is in, rather than just the discipline of daily writing. The article mentioned a German word for that discipline (inexact spelling here) sitzfleisch, basically sitting your body down and doing your work.

TK

#34 DanBuck

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 11:37 AM

Welcome TedK,

We have a writer's feedback group called Writer's Block. The next session starts up in mid-august.

Read about it here.

#35 Darren H

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 12:21 PM

Well, after a week of vacation, I'm back in the library. Still writing. And it's still hard.

#36 Neb

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 01:01 PM

Oh man...I just sent that link to a buddy of mine who's in Darren's predicament.

If you ever find the Groening thing I want a link!

Neb

#37 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 06:53 PM

I'm starting to write more than I used to. I used to write frequently in college, and then I went to lawschool. I'm still amazed at how destructive lawschool was for my love of writing. It literally obliterated it and forced my writing skills into so much legal dreck that I'm only starting to realize how bad it was. It's taken years for me to even start to hope that I can shrug it off.

Most of what I write just gets written and then filed or stacked away, perhaps never to be seen again. But the more I write again (and the more I read), the more I'm becoming convinced that the quality of my writing is not what it should be.

Problems I'm noticing:
1 - Living in California, my vocabulary in everyday conversation is very poor. I speak a legal vocubulary at the office, and then I speak an adolescent's vocabulary around most of the rest of my nonwork friends and family. The problem is that I'm tempted to write like I talk. The result, when I do, is not pretty. It's just coming down to the fact that I've got to force myself to start using a wider variety of words in the English language. I used to shrink back when friends would ask me why I was using big words. It seemed like an affectation. But, when it comes down to it, using lesser known words should not be an affectation, it's a sheer necessity if I'm going to force myself into learning how to meaningfully communicate with the nuances and variations that the English language has provided. The ability to write like the majority of average Californians talk may be useful for characters in fiction someday, but it's not very damn useful for an aspiring writer. This is a problem that had never even occured to me a year ago.
2 - Proofreading: Once I have a finished product, I force myself to proofread it at least twice. The problem here is that my brain often flat out refuses to cooperate. It decides in advance what it wanted written and then just pretends that what it wants is what's on paper or the computer screen even when it's not.
3 - I have a habit (probably another one obtained in law school) to catalogue what different authors have said on certain subject matter. Then, when I write on that subject matter, I excitedly find all the cross-sections and excerpts of what other favorite authors have said on the subject, slide them into the essay which is suddenly twice as long. I personally like this, but I have some friends who tell me they would be more likely to read what write if I only cut the length of what I write in half. Resisting the urge to make an essay consist of half my writing and half excerpts from favorite writers is a great temptation.
4 - Reading over what I write, even just a week or month later, I find that I go through periods where I'll use a specific phrase over and over and over again. Just looking over the last year, I think I need to ban the phrases "modern day", "nowadays," "these days," "in this age," etc. from my writing for a while. I'm writing like a parrot.
5 - Over the last year, getting feedback from friends and family, I've developed the impression that most of my writing is only designed for about 10% or less of the people I know. When nine out of ten of your friends fall asleep two paragraphs in, then that's a bad sign, isn't it?
6 - Writers eventually are supposed to find their own style, isn't that right? I don't consciously inimitate others, but I'm still finding that my writing sounds night and day different if I compare what I just wrote after reading a William F. Buckley book with what I just wrote after finishing a Hunter S. Thompson book. I write differently if I just finished a Charles Dickens novel than I write if I just finished an Ernest Hemingway novel. I must ... resist ... copying them.
7 - Oh yeah, isn't there supposed to be a way for you to control the time periods that you write in? I'm getting tired of suddenly being inspired to write an story about some memory I have from a couple years ago right in the middle when I'm supposed to be writing a 15 page summary judgement motion for work. Or, even worse, I'll have a whole day during the weekend where I'm free to write and ... nothing. I stare at the blank screen and every beginning sentence I try is crap. This is when I literally have 8 or more free hours. Then I'll suddenly wake up at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning, wide awake, and suddenly inspired to write 2 hours worth. Then, at work on Monday I'm cursing whatever night-owl muse I have that refuses to help me during the day.

Anyone have these same problems? Any advice?

#38 Tyler

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 12:09 AM

The best way to proofread your own work is to finish a draft and then put it aside long enough so that you sort of forget what's in it. That way, when you come back to it, you'll be seeing it more like a reader would. That approach isn't an option when you're up against a deadline, obviously.

#39 NBooth

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 12:11 AM

The best way to proofread your own work is to finish a draft and then put it aside long enough so that you sort of forget what's in it. That way, when you come back to it, you'll be seeing it more like a reader would. That approach isn't an option when you're up against a deadline, obviously.


Seconded. It also helps to read the text out loud; you're forced to slow down and hear the words as they flow.

EDIT: Hmm. My comment seems a bit simplistic now that I look over it, but it's a method I swear by.

A couple other thoughts since I'm thinking:

On 3--I've not noticed it as a problem; it's kind of a style thing to me, particularly on your 'blog. But if you want to make the quotes flow more easily, a line or two leading into them would go a long way toward making the whole post seem more cohesive.

On 5--honestly, very few of my friends read what I write. "Write for yourself" seems like inane advice, but it's sound, I think. Your audience generally finds you, not vice versa.

On 6--it's a constant struggle. I had a professor at Covenant who apparently wrote his dissertation right after reading the complete novels of Jane Austen. Looking over it years later, he commented that it was virtually unreadable. I find it very inadvisable to try to write anything after reading Faulkner, myself. But re-writing generally takes care of that (though I hardly ever re-write 'blog posts. I honestly don't put nearly as much effort into them as you do).

On 7--a little notebook. Moleskine or something like that. If inspiration strikes at an inopportune time, jot down a couple of key words and leave it to simmer.

Edited by NBooth, 08 May 2012 - 10:32 AM.


#40 Darren H

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 07:25 AM

Wow, this thread is a blast from the past -- a depressing, soul-deadening blast from the past. And of course it re-emerges on my 40th birthday! Posted Image

I abandoned my dissertation in the fall of 2006 for too many reasons to list. Most of the time I don't regret the decision. Occasionally, I do -- especially at the start of the fall semester when I still make a habit of walking through the university book store and seeing what books are being taught in English and film classes.

Edited by Darren H, 08 May 2012 - 07:25 AM.