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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

REAL Writing

In a world of teenage bloggers, is there any room for REAL writers and REAL writing? How can you explain the difference between trash and quality?

All I know is that I feel nauseous and depressed after spending too much time reading blogs and discussion forums. Superficial opinions, insults, brash humor, vulgarity. It makes me want to throw myself into 19th century literature and never come back.

What prompts this curmudgeonly train of thought is that I just finished reading aloud to my wife the novel Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy. (We read to each other at bedtime.) Sheer delight. The story is simple. Fancy Day, a new school teacher comes to the small village of Mellstock. Three men fall in love with her: a rich farmer, the vicar, and Dick Dewy, the son of the trantor (hauler of goods). Over the course of a year, Dick Dewy courts Fancy Day and they marry. The end.

Obviously not enough action for modern tastes. Besides, the characters are strange and unkempt. They speak in dialect with queer turns of speech.

But for those of us who are out of love with Amercult, the pleasure of Hardy lies in immersing ourselves in the genial, slow-moving rural society of early 19th century England. Our blood pressures go down and we begin to notice small things, like the matted leaves on a path in the rain.

Maybe Peak Oil will force us to stay in one place and rediscover the quieter pleasures of earlier eras.

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Expressing Yourself Online

I’ve been posting to the PeakOil.com website and contributing to the Energy Bulletin website. Plus, dipping my toe in the permaculture and SANET mail lists.

What’s GOOD about discussion groups and mail lists:

  • One gets practice expressing oneself. I’ve written “objectively” for so many years — in journalism and technical writing — that writing my own ideas and feelings is awkward and unfamiliar. It’s like moving muscles I haven’t exercised.
  • One learns to be diplomatic and handle disagreements.
  • One establishes relationships and friendships. Enemies are easy to find too.
  • No matter how bizarre one’s interest, one can find a virtual community with members who are similarly obsessed.

What’s BAD about discussion groups and mail lists:

  • Much of the time is spent on stupid arguments. You spend two hours composing a devastating reply to someone on whom you wouldn’t spend two minutes in real life.
  • Most people on the lists aren’t serious.
  • It takes time, energy and emotions to deal with people and write well.

I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent posting, and I’ve become more accustomed to writing in a personal voice for other people. But in 2005 it will be time to detach myself from the lists and put my energy into serious writing.

And yet posting is addictive. I’ll need to rely on a Higher Power to help me keep this resolution!

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