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Saturday, May 8, 2004

The 32 pages I started typing yesterday had become 41 pages by the time I finished with them tonight at 7:00 pm. I guess you could say I got some satisfaction out of completing the assigned task, but I got a little lost in the middle of all those complex sentences. At the end I was just typing words, not thinking about meaning, and hoping the auto-correct feature picked up all my mistakes.

I used to write that way, in paragraphs that would go on for half a page, loaded with subordinate clauses. It wasn't because I was showing off my superior knowledge of the intricacies of the English (or rather American) language. It was just that I would start a sentence and have a hard time finding my way out of it. All of the grammar was absolutely correct, and the meaning was absolutely incomprehensible (to anyone but me).

That tendency still lingers in my writing, which is I guess why I never seriously considered myself a marketable writer. My technique (when I choose to apply it) is impeccable. Also, boring. Also, indecipherable without a slide rule.

I'm a lot better now thanks to my eleventh grade English teacher. She might not have seen what I was doing right, but she could definitely pin down what I was doing wrong. For the first time in my school life, my potential took a back seat to my limitations. She actually had the nerve to give me a D on a paper that was technically correct but totally soulless.

It wasn't easy or quick, but I learned from that D. Always the first one to want to please the teacher, I started writing shorter sentences and saying things more directly. I can't say that I still do that all the time, but I think I'm a lot better, and I'm a lot less hung up on technique. I'll never be a poet, but I think there's a little more personality in my writing than there used to be.

7 May 2004


In college I tried writing poems. I wrote several very bad ones as part of my portfolio when I was trying to get into a literary seminar my senior year. Somehow I got in anyway, and somehow I passed, but I was way over my head. The successful students in that seminar had something I didn't have. Not only do I still not have it, I don't even know what it is.

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The Giants had a lot of base runners today, but the only runs they scored were on three solo homers, and the Reds won the game, 5-3.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Super Cut
"I shrugged in his direction, but he just shrugged back and said, 'No problem.' That's what I like to hear."

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