1 EAGLETON NOTES: Writing

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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Writing

I have had one of those days when I've only ventured outside when I really had to.  The wind has been  cold and almost gale force and, despite the fact that the sun shone for a great deal of the day, the squalls have come through with great speed and ferocity.  So in between doing some spring cleaning and other odds and ends I've been writing.  I suddenly thought about a post I had done last month on A Hebridean in New Zealand.  Except that I'd apparently never actually posted it. 
How long does it take you to write your average blog post?  Or your average email?  Or a letter?  Or, indeed, anything.   Of course there isn't really an answer to that question other than responding by asking 'How long is a piece of string?'.  I've just written a post which has taken nearly two hours but that's not the whole story.  I had to download the photos from my camera and my phone.  I was, sort of, watching the TV News and making dinner too and in true ARADD fashion I managed to do (and not do) a number of other things as well.
I was thinking of the time it's taken because in a recent post, Terminology, on her blog, Katherine quoted, in context, “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” It would appear that Mark Twain made the comment.   Apparently, however, nothing is ever truly original because Blaise Pascal (French mathematician and physicist 1623 - 1662), in his "Lettres provinciales", letter 16, 1657 said "I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short (Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue parceque je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte)".

The point of all that rambling is that I spent my career making sure that letters, cases, reports, legal documents, the words spoken by politicians (but written by their civil servants) etc were always clear, precise and, hopefully, open only to the interpretation (or in some cases interpretations!) that were desired.

So now that I am supposed to be writing more entertaining prose where, let's face it, no one really cares whether I have crossed the is and dotted the ts (er that doesn't sound quite right correct does it?), I find it very hard to break old habits.
To which post I was referring I have no idea but the principle holds true.  Some people read and write speedily.  Some do not.  I'm one of the slow ones.

6 comments:

  1. 1st I like the humor in Pascal's and Katherine's quotes. But I am confused or they were both using irony!
    2nd You are not by yourself; I take as long as you do, and often more time than that.
    Your weather sounds more like late fall or winter rather than spring. Is it often that way? Keep safe.

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  2. You do an amazing job writing! It's always enjoyable and entertaining, and so human!

    I seem to be in some transition these days; not sure where I'm headed writing-wise, or posting-wise. Kind of in a state of flux. I know I'll work through it, but it's frustrating and time consuming in it's own way right now.

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  3. I know what you mean. Used to be part of my job too (even if I wasn't in the field of politics). On the other hand in private letters I could often easily ramble on for pages. Nowadays that takes too much physical energy. On the other hand I can spend hours on finding the right words to put something short.

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  4. PS. Ouch, I pressed the send button too soon there. Too many "other hands" in that comment ;) as if I had half a dozen to choose from...

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  5. Yes, Norma, it is irony really. The point being that it takes much longer for many people to hone and craft a short work than it does to ramble and produce a long one. I am given to understand that one of the cultural differences between the US and the UK is that, generally speaking, irony is not used in the US to the extent it is in the UK. Mind you although Mark Twain published Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in the UK first he was an American author. So perhaps my understanding is wrong.

    Thanks for your kind words Lisa. I'm so enjoying wandering around in your world. I hope you find your way through and keep blogging even if you go on to other things as well.

    Yes, Monica. Good précis is the most difficult aspect I find. The problem I find is not two hands but trying to get the 10 assorted digits on them to do what I want them to do.

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  6. Writing concisely is an art. It takes careful thought and sometimes research. I think that is why I enjoy my version of blog world so much. It is open to interpretation. It is like an electronic form of my own journal and I am free to ramble as I do in my thoughts...take a little side-road here, chase down a rabbit trail there....It is precisely the freedom of it that draws me here. ;^)

    A friend and I are teaching writing workshops part time now and part of the challenge is to teach business employees how to write carefully and concisely. I think that overall, the care pervades my writing, but mostly, I ignore rules in blog land because that is where I relax! ;^D

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