On Writing This Post
© 25 Aug 2011 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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An explanation why this post took so long to appear.


This was supposed to be yesterday’s post. Here’s why it wasn’t.

I find writing nonfiction to be a fairly predictable process, at least when I am sticking to material I already understand. I take a concept, bumble about for words to describe it, go back and change those words into better ones, discover some mostly-unrelated concept that is surprisingly close to the words I pick, For example, I could go into poetry writing here, but that process is quite different, a difference that arises from its very core. start to put that concept into the main stream of text, decide it really doesn’t fit after all and pull it for later expansion, keep writing, reach an end of the material to present, re-write the ending half a dozen times looking for some kind of conclusion, and there’s the first draft.

Once I have a draft I have three choices. I can say “‍I feel good about this draft‍” and pass it on to my public. I can read it with a mid of structure, correcting grammar, awkward wording, and the like. Or I can read it deeply, searching out a better, crisper, cleaner way to present each sub-concept, re-initiating the entire writing process. On this blog, due mostly to time constraints, I usually just dump the unedited draft to the public. Very few get the full revision process.

Writing can take a lot of time. In my experience, very few ideas lend themselves naturally to textual representation—or to any other form of representation, for that matter. I didn’t learn that I love my parents through any representation, so why should I expect any representation of that love to exist? Though less obvious, that is also true of almost all knowledge. Even things I “‍learned‍” from books or in class were usually only seeded there and have grown by my own experience into a different kind of understanding altogether.

Writing can be considered a process of trying to find seeds that can be conveyed in text and that are likely to grow into something similar to my own concepts when planted in the mind of another. It’s something of a miracle it ever works at all. To get good, viable seeds that people both want to plant and that usually grow into a fairly healthy copy of the original is an extended process.

Once in a while, I write something that simply doesn’t have a chance. Like a bean carved of wood, it may look very much like writing at first glance but it really isn’t. It’s just words. A waste of space. Only someone who already knew what I was trying to convey would have any hope of recognizing the seed. The only recourse for such writing is to discard it.

Such (alas!) was the first version of this post. The concept—my writing process—was a perfectly fine idea to share. The realization was not viable. I had tried to be all logical and apply hierarchical deconstruction to what may be the most holistic activity I regularly undertake. It completely ignored the consequence of not writing well. It didn’t even come close to being correct.

Of course, that post was far from being pointless. While it did delay my posting this by an entire day, it also provided the kernel around which I was able to build this post. Writing is almost never a wasted effort, forcing me to flatten my lofty ideas into a simple textual flow. Even when I have no public at all, I’m always glad to write.

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