Echo and Bounce

Middle (reflections on the Alphabet Supremacy)

Bice and I agreed that for this post we’d discuss our thoughts and reflections on the Alphabet Supremacy project so far.  Here’s mine, which mostly date from about the end of March.

Writing process

  • Knowing that I’m going to write something every week means that I’m somewhat okay with writing and publishing something that I’m not happy with.  Part of the exercise is acquiring the discipline of getting something out.
  • Also, I’m treating the whole thing as exercise rather than performance. That is, I’m using it as an excuse to try things, or to get better at things that I’ve struggled with.
  • This makes me particularly grateful to readers who actually continue to read. Thank you.
  • Although it’s not part of the rules, I’m avoiding using the bullet-point style that I prefer. That’s particularly because I want to exercise writing long form prose that’s coherent.
  • As I work on something, I very much wish that I could work on it more.
  • In particular, many, many ideas get discarded, some of which are better than the thing that gets published.  Alas, time.
  • Also, I’m starting to learn to identify when I take the lazy way out in writing and also thinking.  
  • I often want to write “Perhaps X” or “Maybe Y”, and when I do, it’s because I haven’t taken the time or made the effort to evaluate X or Y.
  • Sometimes I’ve had what I thought were interesting ideas, and then spent a lot of time developing them and then they turn out to be trite & obvious. And then I delete them, and no one notices.
  • Composing an essay so that it has an actual point is rather hard.
  • Writing on a topic that’s chosen for me is a great way to get ideas for something, anything else to write.  Making the time to develop those ideas is quite hard.
  • As a matter of principle, I think that most writers or speakers must first be entertainers. Perhaps some people are exceptions, but I don’t believe I’m one of them. 
  • Why do we have principles? So we can constantly feel like failures and hypocrites.
  • Despite the fact that the whole reason I’m doing this is that I want to get better, I’m regularly surprised by just how hard it is to say what I mean.
  • I really want to be an essayist, but this far in, I think I prefer my fiction pieces more (in particular, Bargain and Indifference)

Interaction with Bice

  • Although it’s not a competition, I do make a bit of an internal decision about whether my post or Bice’s is the better one.  I haven’t been keeping score though, which is most likely a sub-conscious reaction to having a lower score.
  • I don’t read Bice’s post until I’ve published mine.  I accidentally did so once, and that made it very difficult for me to write mine.
  • We do sometimes talk about posts and our thinking process after we’ve written them. Most of this discussion has been logged, and it might be interesting to review & perhaps publish it some time toward the end of the project.

Word Choice

  • Sometimes I choose words because they’ll be easy for me to write about. Sometimes because I want to see what Bice has to say. Other times because I want to be forced to write about something in particular. 
  • At least once, I’ve chosen a word because I could see opportunities for both fiction and non-fiction pieces.
  • We don’t collude over the choice of words (except for this one!).  We sometimes talk about it after the choice (e.g. I recently asked if “football” was deliberately chosen to make this week’s post difficult for me), but we don’t discuss what we’re planning to write.

Pragmatics

  • Writing a post takes between two and six hours of actually sitting at a laptop, writing and editing.
  • With my current schedule, that’s a significant but manageable amount of time.  It mostly means I have to do less open source hacking, and do fewer spontaneous fun things on the weekend.
  • When I’m sick, or I have a busy weekend, or I’m travelling, it’s much harder to get something done.
  • Blogger isn’t a fun platform to compose on.
  • I’ve already missed multiple deadlines.
  • Jolie has been a huge help to me in getting these posts out.  I can’t overstate this.
  • I would love the opportunity to spend a few months working a piece that I cared about.  However, a few months of full time writing would probably drive me mad.  And I’d almost certainly procrastinate until the last week anyway.
This post is part of the Alphabet Supremacy project, a collaboration between myself and Bice Dibley.

Comments

Jonathan Lange on 2013-07-01 16:22
Ugh, no, sorry. I wrote this before flying to the States and the word choice got lost in the timezone transition.

Am struggling to think of anything to write about that I'd actually find interesting. How about "negotiation".
Bice Dibley on 2013-07-01 15:52
Have you by cunning device implied next week's word is "nothing"?