Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Lexdate: Grinding My Week into Sandwich Filler for Your Reading Digestion

Nothing too exciting with my writing over the last week or so. Mostly just grinding away.

Completed the consistency edit of latest drafted parts of the novel. Over the last couple days, I took out that “marketability” edit I did a couple weeks ago to revise the master draft, taking what I want from the “marketable” then leaving everything else. The amount that I’ve taken surprises me a little. It’s an interesting exercise to separate the useless awkward from the stylistic awkward that comes from the world building and also to figure out how much awkwardness the audience can tolerate.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Project and Politics/Social Justice Update: Interesting Edits, Breakthroughs, & Politics/Social Justice Snark

Well last weekend got busy with a bunch of social stuff. Fitting in chores and regular priority stuff became difficult. I had to stretch out those things over the nights of the last week. Unfortunately the weekly update came in last on the list of things to do. It means I get to stuff two weeks of writing/research and political/social justice updates into one blog entry. Not a really a big deal.

One night I worked on editing down a part of my novel to make eligible for submission to Boston Review Call for Submissions: Global Dystopias. About three quarters of the way in and two hours of life used up, I aborted the project because it felt like gutting the story.

With so much focus on reducing the word count, I didn’t know if it helped or hurt. With that much involved and about 2,000 more words to get rid of, I didn’t feel comfortable going further with the project.

It didn’t help that I would end up paying a submission fee. Don’t get me wrong, the journal has legitimacy. Just some of the names of contributors give the journal legitimacy (more academic essayists, politicians, and public personalities than fiction writers, mind you). The combination to pay for submission and feeling like I had chipped away at the soul of the story just didn’t feel right, though.

Nonetheless, a couple good things came out of the endeavor. I re-read parts that got me excited about the story again and reminded me that I could write well, if I could just make more time to do so.

Some of the word cutting improved things a little, too. I saved both the original text and the skimmed down version. In a week or so, I should have a round of consistency/update edits done for names and details added in non-linearly. I might as well look compare the original text and the word cut edited text then incorporate the edits where appropriate and adds to the soul.

The current essay had a breakthrough, too. For the last 8-10 years, I had tried finding the motivation or at least a theoretical rationale for steps taken by a historical figure to accomplish their goal. It took an interesting path.

It started with me realizing that I couldn’t find good biographical facts or explanations for why this historical figure believed the things that he believed. This frustration has even led to frustration with myself over the years for not journaling or cataloguing my thoughts, events, and other biographical data in case people in the future, after I pass away, ever want to understand my actions. Frankly, having such a journal or catalog could help me in the future when I have a hard time remembering. I know reading my journals today help me a bit in understanding myself.

Looking up biography at Wikipedia, I ran into an interesting line in the section about modern biography that stated that the fields of psychology and sociology made their ascendance in the early 20th century, which affected the genre quite a bit. The historical figure lived in the first half of the 19th century, so I came to realize that he had a completely different idea of how people developed morals, appropriate social behavior, and sense of responsibility.

His view in these topics plays a big part since he has the biggest part in crafting the utopian community in question, decides when to call it quits, and down the road reveals his frustration with the masses of people. His frustrations come off as surprising since he had so much optimism when it came to people and also expressed some sense of responsibility to helping people grow and find a place in society. At the same time, in his community, in all the books I’ve read, no where have I found anything about him elaborating any theory on how to make it work or even any record of him doing anything direct to make it happen in his community.

The man had interesting ideas about the development of humans. He teeter tottered between the need to assist people to learn and become more moral and having a belief that people had an internal moral compass that would lead everyone who thought about a problem to the same exact conclusion (at times, some type of sense that connected their conscience to God). It felt like a contradiction. On the one hand, people needed help to reach a state of right conscience that they wanted help to do, but when it came time to craft a utopian community, he expected all the adults in it to reach the same final conclusions about their responsibilities and place in it, no matter their biography.

This contradiction sent me into a researching spiral. I searched deeper into essays he had written, trying to parse his words to make sense of his contradictory arguments. An essay of his that sparked a major controversy between him and a mentor and a couple religious ministry cohort generations led me to an introduction to Samuel Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection written by James Marsh.

James Marsh’s introduction led me down a Wikipedia/WWW spiral to try shining some light onto the epistemology of the American Transcendentalists, European/British Romantics, and Samuel Coleridge. It led me to some interesting Wikipedia entries, like: Romantic Epistemology, Coleridge’s Theory of Life, and Romanticism and Bacon. All very interesting, but it only got me halfway to where I needed to go.

The WWW spiral led me to ”Coleridge’s American Reputation, 1800-1853”. This article helped make sense of the questions on epistemology that I had. In addition, though, it cited, multiple times, an introduction to a translation of philosophical works written by a Frenchmen. I read that introduction and perfect! I found the rationale for my historical figure’s actions and reactions.

At the same time, I feel a little infuriated. I had touched upon this book of translation years ago, but I didn’t go so far into the “Introductory Notes” as I should have. Instead, I had read the “Editor’s Preface”, which didn’t get into any of theory and rationale. The historical figure had edited the translation, so I figure he would have wrote the importance of this theory and rationale in that preface. I thought the original philosopher had written the “Introductory Notes”. But no, that wasn’t the case, The historical figure/editor had written the “Introductory Notes” where we find the real important information.

It took me a year’s long roundabout journey to reach this point with the help of a more modern essay and its footnotes. Before this point, I hadn’t understood the unclear conventions of translations and compilations until this point. I had a similar experience reading essays by this historical figure and others in a magazine they published because they didn’t have bylines, signed off with initials, or even used aliases when publishing. How very frustrating!

Years ago, a teacher friend of mine had reassured me that when I completed this whole project, I would have gained useful experience and skills that I could use later. I guess we can find some truth in that reassurance.

Honestly, though, I’d like to know if there’s any reference material that points out conventions used in magazines, journals, and books in the past that I could have read awhile ago that could have cut down on this journey. I know in today’s world, we have plenty of style guides for different types of publications. Knowing if they exist for publications in the far past would be very helpful.

For now, though, yay! I made a breakthrough and plan to make some progress with it.

Otherwise, I did some more grinding with the fiction editing and outlining for the current essay.


And now onto my social media snark fest, this time with some Facebook screenshots.

(If you can't read the below Facebook snapshot, click on it or save then open as a file)

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Project and Politics/Social Justice Update: A Grindy Week with Some Progress

Fiction writing involved grinding away at revising. Per usual, the focus remains on adjusting formatting for texting/computer spots to make them more distinct from real time narrative and switching the names and pronouns of a character that I’ve switched some characteristics. They haven’t made their actual entrance to the story, so these changes don’t require extensive adjustment yet.

While reviewing, though, finding some spots that have required a little more extensive editing. An edit from a couple weeks ago when I introduced a second “secret” mobile phone had a bit to with it this time. It reminds me of when I first started this particular scene when I spent many sessions having to think and re-think over a scene where one of the characters makes a sneaky raid approach on temporary fortress. DETAILS!

Please note disclosure of this part doesn’t spoil much. The novel starts with that scene, and I hope the narrative makes it clear that the character plans to make the sneaky raid very soon.

I didn’t do as much of the editing as I would have liked because of late hours at the office leading to difficult awakenings in the morning. For other “reasons”, I didn’t get much chance to outline the academic essays, either. Interesting craft break through, though. Don’t pack details into the introduction of essays. They prove more useful for building up the middle and providing transitions in the essay. It doesn’t solve all the macro transition issues, but it helps.


Nothing sticks out to me this week. More complacency on my part with ruminations about how to feel more comfortable about wading my feet into the pool while the day-to-day beats me down and feeling intimidated by action. With that in mind, I’ll jump into my week in Tweet and Re-Tweetss: