Monday, February 24, 2014

Why I Love Twitter

Every writer will tell you that the essence of good writing is hacking, hacking, hacking your beloved pieces to pieces.

A general rule of thumb is that you should be leaving about half of your words on the cutting room floor.

Nothing forces you to distill like Twitter. 140 characters is plenty of space to put a complete and developed thought out there, but there is room for precious little else.

This is particularly true for me because I mostly tweet for the art of it: my tweets exist to amuse. A lot of people use Twitter as a source of gaining and sharing information. I use it it for myself in that way--I do a lot of gaining info, but very little giving.

I am using the Buffer app to crank out three tweets a day. I can throw them into the Buffer "hopper" as they occur to me, and then the tweets will go out at the scheduled times.

So I was combing through some of my old notes, and I am across a piece that was about 80 characters too long for a tweet:

"To the best of my knowledge I have never been burned in effigy, but if I were I would hope that the representation of my body was fairly accurate and not exaggerated to make me look any fatter or uglier than I already am."

So I took that, and whittled it down to this:

"When I am burned in effigy I hope the depiction is somewhat accurate and not exaggerated to make me look any fatter than I already am."

You hope that you maintained the essence of the larger collection of words, and then, if you're lucky, maybe you made it even more potent.

Whether or not the shorter version is an improvement, it is always a good thing to slim your writing down. Twitter presents this challenge, this opportunity, and I think it has made me a better writer.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

List of People That I Used To Respect and Now Don't


Jess told me not to post this.

You would have been interested, a lot of you were on it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Why Are American's Like This?

The way that people feel about their own dialect, that they are the only ones without an accent, is the way that I feel about American culture: This is just the way things are if you're normal. It's hard for me to think about the fact that we go about things in a unique way because of the sum of all the factors that create culture in the first place.

I came across these words that suggest an explanation for the way that we are. They are from an essay that Saul Bellow wrote a little over 20 years ago. It's probably more powerful in the context of the whole essay, but here are the paragraphs that struck me:

"A self-improving lot, Americans have a weakness for this kind of thing: the idealist holding aloft a banner with a strange device. Huck Finn had no use for the nice bright clean new England boy advancing under the motto Excelsior. When Aunt Sally threatened to "sivilize" him, he decided to "light out for the territory ahead." There was a time when it was normal for American children to feel that "self-improvement" propaganda would lead us not up the mountain but into the sloughs.

In the matter of opinion, Americans are vulnerable to ideologues, "originators," trendsetters, heralds of better values. Lacking the sustaining traditions of older cultures, we cast about for prescriptions, we seek--in our uncertainty--the next necessary and "correct" step. I can't at the moment remember who it was who said (it sounds like Elbert Hubbard, or perhaps R.W. Emerson), "Invent a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." Revised and updated, this would go: "Invent a new cliche and you will make it big." "

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When We Were Birds

The wall, above Nolan's dresser.

Nolan: Why do we have those pictures?

Me: Do you know who that middle one is? 

Nolan: Nolan?

Me: That's right! Do you know who the other one is?

Nolan: Is that Russell?

Me: That's right!

Nolan: Is that other one of me when I was a birdy?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How It All Might End

If I should ever meet an early demise by my own hand, it will be because I just couldn't accept that my fellow Christians are willing and capable to produce such stupidity: