Monday, August 22, 2011

The Writing Prior To The Posting

It's been over 24 hours since my last post. It's not like I've run out of things to say. I have a stack of backed up posts on a variety of topics - thoughts on the Redistricting Board's submission to the Department of Justice, the Municipality's approach to Boards and Commissions, the movie "The Help", a bear we saw near Child's Glacier, the mayor's justification for being able to veto amendments to ordinances before the ordinance has passed, a story about housing problems in Kosovo, Moira Kalman and book covers, and on and on.  Some of these are already lengthy drafts. Some just  ideas.  Or photos.  I have a video of the bear.  But they just aren't ready.

While it may not always seem like it, I try to write these posts in a way that pinpoints the most important parts of the issue and follows Strunk and White's Elementary Principles of Composition.  (The link goes to Strunk's 1918 edition online.  The countless newer editions have more modern examples, but the basic advice is the same pithy insight into clearer writing.)

So, I write.  Maybe I'll put up some photos or a video.  As I write, new questions arise.  Or I see connections to other seemingly unrelated issues.  I'll google and check out background information.  Sometimes, but rarely, I'll make phone calls.   I revise.  Move stuff. Delete stuff.  Maybe it's repetitious or doesn't directly add to the story.  Though I do keep in a number of digressions that add context.  (I'm a big fan of Tristram Shandy (read paragraph 2 and the quote in the link) and I even did a post on Dickens' thoughts on meanderingClifford Geertz's thick description is another influence.)

When it seems close to complete, I'll push the preview button and read it there.  That leads to a long series of backs-and-forths between the post and the preview as I correct typos, cut out unnecessary verbiage, or have an entirely new thought about how to clarify a point. 

I could keep editing forever, because it's always improvable. But each change carries the possibility of new errors.  While I do this, to some extent, with every post, the more sensitive the topic, the more I work at it.  Eventually, there comes a point where I say, "OK, this is it.  I'll look at the preview one more time, but no more changes unless it's flat out wrong."  And even then I might see something I missed before which would be so much better if . . . and I revise it despite my 'last time' resolve.  [I know, some of you are thinking, "He does all that?  It must be really bad to start with."  It is.]

I don't have an editor to correct my overlooked typos or give me deadlines or assignments.  One of the best ADN reporters once told me the benefits (of no editor) far outweigh the drawbacks.  So this one is not a complaint.  Well, none are complaints, just explanations of what happens before something gets posted.

Some of these posts have been held up because I've tried to get a little more information. (Does anyone out there know if the Greater Anchorage Area Borough (GAAB) had a charter? And if it did, do you know where I can get a copy? I've talked to the Archives at UAA, the Alaskana Room at Loussac,  the State Archives in Juneau,  the Mayor of the GAAB, and the Municipal Clerk's office. They either said they didn't know or it would cost to do more research. Did I mention the Boundary Commission?)

Sometimes I just have to do something else for a while so my brain can sort things out without me disturbing it.  When I get back to it, a day or three later, it's all much clearer.  But it may also mean I have to start all over with a totally new structure. 

Sometimes other things present themselves to be blogged. They look like quick, easy posts (like this one did),  but usually turn out to have some twist that takes much longer than I intended.

And while I got 2 more gigabytes memory for my MacBook (another post to be written) my cursor has begun to skip to seemingly random places, to select what I've just typed, and then to delete it with the next stroke. If I type realllllllll slooooooooowly it doesn't happen as much.  And sometimes I get five minutes with no quirks. (This feral cursor would make an amusing video.)

And this is supposed to be fun, so sometimes I have to just leave a post awhile, until it's fun again, and not work.

And my wife offered a massage, which is always better than blogging.

1 comment:

  1. Well, You take blogging very seriously. I rarely have time to check myself so much.


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