Writing Comes in Many Flavors

I am not, I regret to say, a fictioneer. I find time to be a crazy-quilt rather than a linear sequence, and plot to be a murky subject indeed. I can, though, put a sentence or a paragraph together, and I do like to write about what I’ve been doing. I have a LiveJournal, a current research journal, and two older attempts at journaling, Broadside and Bouncing Biscuits, both somewhat out of date.

I also occasionally write poetry, and although I have not yet decided whether to put any of mine up here, I am going to give you a link to a few strange items that I happen to like.

Professionally, I was a technical writer for about thirteen years. That turns out to be very difficult, and it is no surprise to me that most technical writing is unreadable and uninformative. Worse, I have yet to see any corporate circumstance where people really got it that nerds use the Index to find what they want. The only competent index I’ve seen in the technical world is the separately published index to Guy Steele’s Common LISP, which was compiled by Rosemary M. Simpson. If you want to read some really fine technical writing, by the way, take a look at the four-volume New Series on Photography by Ansel Adams. I may have the title slightly askew, but if you look for Adams and the New York Graphics Society (the publisher), you’ll find it. It is every bit as lucid as his autobiography.

About Writing & Teaching (Not necessarily in that order)

The first thing I want to say about writing is that the function of a first draft is to be lousy. I know of about two writers who have consistently published first drafts; one was so famous that nobody dared to edit the work, and the other has died. Those two and a few other astounding exceptions aside, first drafts generally need serious editing. Some few people write well enough that they can actually send their first drafts to an editor; the rest of us are well advised to apply some careful polishing first.

Here are some rules of thumb for writers.

I really like shoveling information into people, sometimes faster than they think they can assimilate it. If that sounds cruel or cold to you, think again. I am rather reasonable about stopping upon request, and about repeating or explaining. I didn’t say I liked jamming on people & making them feel bad; that ain’t what I’m after at all.

No, what I want is that joyous breakers-tripped overload feeling, when you have so much to think about that you think you’re going to explode.

Rants and Rambles

Here are some things they maybe didn’t tell you in school:

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Last modified: Tue Jul 1 16:33:13 EDT 2008