nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
From a retrospective about Roth

The crude cliché is that the writer is solving the problem of his life in his books. Not at all. What he's doing is taking something that interests him in life and then solving the problem of the book - which is, How do you write about this?


Link thanks to [livejournal.com profile] supergee.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
From a retrospective about Roth

The crude cliché is that the writer is solving the problem of his life in his books. Not at all. What he's doing is taking something that interests him in life and then solving the problem of the book - which is, How do you write about this?


Link thanks to [livejournal.com profile] supergee.

Essays

Sep. 11th, 2004 11:51 pm
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Here's Paul Graham on essays.

After a history of how non-fiction prose has come to be taught--it comes partly from the renaisssance work of assimilating classical culture and partly from legal argument, he gives a description of essays--a sort of writing which begins with a question rather than a premise and which describes the discursive work of getting an answer.

(IIRC, I was never given any systematic explanation, good or bad, of how to write an essay, but I do remember having to write about who was the tragic hero of _Julius Caesar_ and wondering why anybody would care.)


The river's algorithm is simple. At each step, flow down. For the essayist this translates to: flow interesting. Of all the places to go next, choose the most interesting. One can't have quite as little foresight as a river. I always know generally what I want to write about. But not the specific conclusions I want to reach; from paragraph to paragraph I let the ideas take their course.


So, what's interesting?



Surprises are things that you not only didn't know, but that contradict things you thought you knew. And so they're the most valuable sort of fact you can get. They're like a food that's not merely healthy, but counteracts the unhealthy effects of things you've already eaten.


This at least starts to address one of the questions I've been chewing on for a while--how to be interesting. I'm at least decent at it, but the web and the net are plagued by people who are want attention but don't know any pleasant way of getting it. Telling them about surpise might help and is kinder than asking them to come back when they can pass a Turing test.

Essays

Sep. 11th, 2004 11:51 pm
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Here's Paul Graham on essays.

After a history of how non-fiction prose has come to be taught--it comes partly from the renaisssance work of assimilating classical culture and partly from legal argument, he gives a description of essays--a sort of writing which begins with a question rather than a premise and which describes the discursive work of getting an answer.

(IIRC, I was never given any systematic explanation, good or bad, of how to write an essay, but I do remember having to write about who was the tragic hero of _Julius Caesar_ and wondering why anybody would care.)


The river's algorithm is simple. At each step, flow down. For the essayist this translates to: flow interesting. Of all the places to go next, choose the most interesting. One can't have quite as little foresight as a river. I always know generally what I want to write about. But not the specific conclusions I want to reach; from paragraph to paragraph I let the ideas take their course.


So, what's interesting?



Surprises are things that you not only didn't know, but that contradict things you thought you knew. And so they're the most valuable sort of fact you can get. They're like a food that's not merely healthy, but counteracts the unhealthy effects of things you've already eaten.


This at least starts to address one of the questions I've been chewing on for a while--how to be interesting. I'm at least decent at it, but the web and the net are plagued by people who are want attention but don't know any pleasant way of getting it. Telling them about surpise might help and is kinder than asking them to come back when they can pass a Turing test.
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Well, writing for the lj is already an education--I hadn't realized that writing anything interesting about T'ai Chi would be so difficult/not a default. While the sort of thing I've written could still be useful for me as practice and class notes, if T'ai Chi were as dull as I make it sound, I wouldn't have been doing it for 20-odd years.

Aside from doing more introspection and putting in more effort when I write and rereading some of my better T'ai Chi books (reviews will follow when I've got that amazon link set up--does anyone actually make money from those?) with attention to what they're actually doing, are there any lj's with substantive writing about T'ai Chi or other movement arts? Or good stuff about writing about hard-to-specify sensations?
nancylebov: blue moon (Default)
Well, writing for the lj is already an education--I hadn't realized that writing anything interesting about T'ai Chi would be so difficult/not a default. While the sort of thing I've written could still be useful for me as practice and class notes, if T'ai Chi were as dull as I make it sound, I wouldn't have been doing it for 20-odd years.

Aside from doing more introspection and putting in more effort when I write and rereading some of my better T'ai Chi books (reviews will follow when I've got that amazon link set up--does anyone actually make money from those?) with attention to what they're actually doing, are there any lj's with substantive writing about T'ai Chi or other movement arts? Or good stuff about writing about hard-to-specify sensations?

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