The Mystery Man & Reflections On Writing
Aham: It’s frustrating when the things you want to say are already being said better.
Mystery Man: Dude that was quick
Aham: I’m only halfway through it man
Mystery Man: Ah! I was like I have literally only written 5 lines of code
In the time you read it 😛
Mystery Man: and the program won’t compile
So make that five lines of incorrect code
I read much slower than average if you must know
Mystery Man: This project is getting frustrating
I like to believe that I read a bit faster than average
However, my ability to retain information is inversely proportional to the speed at which I read it
Most of the time it isn’t something to be retained.
Aham: Yes, the same is very true for me, but at slightly postponed scales
Mystery Man: Like you read 100 lines. Analyse it – Good/bad, Trust/No Trust etc
And remember the gist
Or the key points
But no way am I going to remember specific sentences or even facts
This is why I remember politics related articles better
Aham: Precisely, but more often than not, the books that have caught our attention tend to be the books we would regret forgetting about.
Mystery Man: Ah yes
Aham: “All writers have an insatiable need for gratification, so pleasure is the supreme perk of writing. The process of writing, the act of editing and being edited, and then the ultimate climax—the publication, the re-reading and reflection—this is why I write.”
Mystery Man: Asshole also does that thing of saving his best for the last
Man, a good ending is so important
Much more than a good starting I believe
Of course your first para should be better in style and content than the others but that is only to retain the interest of the reader
The ending has a lot of impact on how the article is ‘remembered’
Kind of like that TED talk. People remembered things that end well in a favourable light
Aham: It is, leaves a better lasting impression, and if you manage to make it go well with the content itself, then the content becomes even more prominent.
Mystery Man: Yup
Like I said, it’s frustrating to read something about why some people write when I myself have something to say along those lines, only not so precisely.
The answer to “Why I write?” has varied over the years, six of them to be precise, but I’ve noticed that towards the end, it has reduced ostensibly in definition. However, that doesn’t mean I have a fitting answer either.
Like Heller says, gratification is a supreme perk for the writer. Every article one has ever written is waiting to be spoken about, to be discussed at length, and it is for these reasons that the writer himself takes any trouble to make the words easy to remember. An article not shared amongst readers or not discussed (except when it appears in a newspaper) does not necessarily mean it has been imprecisely constructed, but that something is amiss.
It’s never been about the “missing comma” – a bland complaint – “or stringy sentences” (Mystery Man) but about how much confidence you profess in your article’s content itself. It shows when a carpenter writes about birds; he might know the theory like the back of his hand but writing about a bird like you would about plywood makes a difference – sometimes subtle, sometimes stark. It’s not enough to know your subject, it makes a difference to experience it. This is when perseverance more than talent, and passion more than perseverance, makes a difference.
That much is important about the content. Content stylization is a close second; once you’ve answered “what”, you have “where is what”. This is the part wherein you move from addressing your concerns to addressing the readers’. Different people are going to perceive your article differently – which means you’re going to have to tighten all the loopholes where there are any.
One extremely annoying thing about writing for a wide audience, IMO, is catering to all attention spans: from that of a “dead poodle” to one that can devour a Dickens in one sitting. Assuming that an article is as strong as its weakest paragraph, go through the whole work once after you’re done writing it to see which paragraph you were eager to finish. Then, either delete or rework it completely to match the style of the paragraph you were most eager to start. Do this again and again until such ups and downs become as unobtrusive as possible.
Until now, the above-mentioned question is answered by my wont to master these nuances, to write without coming in the way of the reader and any self-imposed objective that reading it accomplishes. Of course, it helps if one is not too conscious about these efforts being narrow-mindedly directed towards a definite end; taking to something more as a learning experience has its advantages.
I still have a long way to go and have no way to tell what’s coming after the next corner. After what can only be called an ill-advised hiatus, there seems to be a wide chasm between writing to learn and writing to teach – it’s like being given a shot at running a nuclear power plant: it’s –ing interesting, but mistakes now cost so much more. Eh, it’s worth it.
- The lost art of editing (guardian.co.uk)