Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Sunday, June 22, 2003

 

On Writing


I had no ideas as to what to write today. So I started by writing about writing. It's stu's fault, see below. Then I moved onto researching Brinkley's involvement with smoking - found a good book on how our overwhelming ad culture can wipe out another in less than 10 years by Jean Kilborne - then I discovered Larry Lessig had read and linked to Evan Hunt's piece on ad pollution- thus achieving more inbound blog links in a single day than I have in a year - and now it's four hours later. I've overwatered the garden.

When I started blogging I resolved to put out two pieces per month, and struggled to do that - english came hard to me back in January. I knew I had to keep at it. It was theraputic.

Every real author says you've gotta do "1000 words a day" - but it was never clear to me on what - I felt like I had to tackle the big subjects head on - stuff I care about, like copyright law, the state of computation, the state of the world, space, the meme war, Linux, gui design, and consumer electronics. I ended up writing, sideways, about what was really on my mind.

Most helpful to me were the 6 audio cassettes of Steven King's book, On Writing - A memoir of the craft. He was brilliant, concise, & inspirational. I would play a side, write for a week, then play another side. I accumulated major library fines... Two ringing phrases remain in my mind:

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs." - I play homage to that phrase in the ADverb Apocalypse.

And:

"Write the Truth".

Write the Truth. That was his first, and most important lesson to me. I groped and groped towards Truth with a capital T. Writing became easier.

Gradually I ramped up - 2-3-4 pieces a week, sometimes two in one day, it got easier to just type and write - aha! I realized that you just had to write whatever came to mind and gradually, gradually, you will be able to tackle those big subjects, just as sideways as you tackled the little ones, the trivial ones. In the last couple weeks I've blogged nearly every day - some good stuff - most trivial - but I think I'm cracking 1000 words a day now - almost by accident - and it feels like a dam bursting.

To write - oh - to write - it's better than cocaine. You lay out a fine line, you do it, you look away and have the world sparkle a little, and you look back... and it's still there! You lay out another... and another... and another... and another... and suddenly it's 3AM and your head hits the keyboard. You hit save. You get ready for bed. Then you have to just admire your work for a while. You notice problems, and fix them, and then it's 4AM.

With writing - you don't screw up your nose - but you do end up just as broke.

Today, maybe I'll catch up on some choice emails, and continue to work on my own thought processes - I've been experimenting with first/second/third person writing, talking to myself, trying to see if I spoke better with your voice, or with theirs.

...in a can without a brand



From stu - who tried blogging once and went back to writing weird emails, playing jazz bass, and making late night phone calls -



Stu sends me this mystic trippy stuff after we talk nearly every time. We used to tape our conversations because once we got on that same ethereal plane - we was out there, man - we was out there - and you know when you are achieving perfection when the you you are ain't there, you know? I remember one tape we made of a drive to Frys - we talked about asteroid colonization - that out there, "there was Real Estate, on the hoof" that anyone could live on! I spoke so convincingly that there was a deep pause in the conversation and Stu said, longingly:

"Can I go?"

I told him: "Sure".

Same tone of longing, and dead seriously, Stu said:

"Can my dog come, too?"

"Sure. We can use her to thoroughly test the air recirculation system..." - Luna, now sadly deceased, was a smelly dog, but stu, Luna, and his van were inseperable...

I forget what else we talked about - oh yea, we talked about stupid laws, and just as I finished ranting about it - we had maybe 5 minutes to get to frys - I got stuck, needing to make a left at a red light with absolutely no oncoming traffic. The next sound on the tape: "Vrooooooom".

Stu writes on:
I'm rather reluctant to drink from that cup - but the cosmic rap - I always dig, brother. We had another exchange of emails, I talked about my henry milleresc-ape fantasy... and he gave me his:



On Brinkley


Brinkley died recently. I'm not going to write a eulogy for him, I don't know his work. I've only watched television news twice in the last 15 years. I had heard that in the early days of his news show, it was sponsored by Philip Morris, and there were all sorts of "interesting" requests from them... let me go research that - hmm, nothing on google so far... history started in 1993 it seems.... let's try google groups - here's a good rant about cigarettes - no Brinkley, but. I've been bitching about the lack of crossover between USENET and blogs recently, so: here's a good USENET rant on cigarettes. USENET was/is GREAT - more people should try conversing over it...

And here's a great one cohesively summarizing everything about the smoking industry you didn't ever want to know.

I've been writing this past hour with a cig in my mouth, trying NOT to go outside and smoke it. Aha - from George Will:



I've heard more than that. I heard - this is hearsay, ok? - that the various smoking companies kept news programs from ever showing a non-smoking sign, and also didn't allow pipes and other kinds of tobacco to be seen. I look at pictures of NASA in the 60s and I see a lot of pipes being smoked, not many cigs. Fast forward to today - I felt like a real anachronism with my tobacco pipe. I would walk down the streets of santa cruz figuring I'd be arrested for possibly smoking some other substance. The thing was - I vastly prefer pipe tobacco to cigs - it smells better, tastes better, is cheaper, and lets you measure out your dosage better.

I'm trying to quit, really, I am. I threw out my good pipe in an orgy of "I will quit. I will quit." a few weeks ago, when I thought my stress level was in decline - and I am doing a half pack a day of the cigs that I hate instead... it's a more expensive habit than the pipe was... I miss my pipe... I could smoke and write instead of gnawing at this filter...

Kulture Shock



From Jean Kilbourne's Can't buy my love:



Evan gets some feedback from furdlog on more thoughts on ad pollution (which started with my Beating the Brand I have to point out - since I wrote that and larry didn't link to it - I coulda been a contenda, I coulda...)

 
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