Re: Good Backtalk


I had an undergrad professor who had paper assignments that you had to turn in, get comments from him, and then redo. Helped a ton. He was my adviser and I took maybe four courses from him, nearly all honors sections. Really helped me write more good.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-21 9:05 AM
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I started to write for an eclectic webzine where every misstep resulted in a feeding frenzy of extremely intelligent people on my wee scraps of intelligence.

Actually, one big thing was trying to write emails that clearly communicated a point, where it was in my best interest to be as clear as possible.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-19-21 9:08 AM
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There's a tension between "I write to express myself?" versus "I write to communicate meaning to others." They're not incompatible, obviously the ideal is both, but then how many of us are Proust

Posted by: No Longer Middle Aged Man | Link to this comment | 11-19-21 9:14 AM
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Statistically, more than zero but less than one.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-21 9:14 AM
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The student doesn't see it as something that needs discussion, because they fundamentally think they already know it.

I get into trouble two different ways on this sort of thing: I get very smart people who are unable to modify a very stupid method because they can't listen; and I get very smart people who believe whatever I tell them without argument.

Both types are huge sucks of my time. The first because they require elaborate explanations of elementary matters, and often require me to just issue an order at the end regardless; the latter because they take my instruction and carry it out, but because they don't push back on the bits they don't understand, they can't apply my guidance to future situations.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-19-21 9:57 AM
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Sometimes when I write, I think like I'm verbally explaining something to a colleague and then replace "Listen here mother fucker" with "As demonstrated above."

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-19-21 10:36 AM
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Weirdly, or perhaps not, my undergrad writing was stronger when I was also taking math courses. I can BS reasonably well in history and social science and all that, but if there's a hole in your math proof, there's a hole in your proof. Turns out that was good practice for constructing solid arguments in other subjects. Who knew?

One of my grad-school politics profs said that I wrote like an op-ed columnist. He thought that was bad. Who really affects policy, the one with the paper in an academic journal five years later, or the one with 750 glib words opposite the in-house editorials that nobody reads?

Anyway, I'm now a gadfly at an eclectic web magazine and the second-most productive writer at a two-person bookblog. So there.

Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 11-19-21 10:53 AM
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Amen to 6. My writing style is just to write whats in my head and then go through it and replace most of the f-bombs with other adjectives.

Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-19-21 11:19 PM
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