Sunday, December 09, 2012

Reading & writing - along with Stephen Marche essay

Over the past four years of writing this blog, I've intermittently thought about and occasionally written on (usually with a post tag of "blogging") the process of doing the posts and the point of the effort.

Source of writing posted on

In terms of the content and where it comes from, there's simply a heck of a lot of reading. This comes in the form of books (mostly non-fiction), magazines (have seven subscriptions now) and more recently, Twitter and story links I get from the people I follow.

Selecting writing to post on

Reading something with an eye towards writing on it makes the process more interesting in that I'm evaluating whether something interesting and why. I'm reading to find great writing and ascertain what it is about a given piece that makes it exemplary... whether it be lyrical prose, deep reporting (and potentially off the beaten path anecdotes provided) or simply a topic of interest that's covered well. Where something becomes great is oftentimes in the combination of factors. A piece of writing on an interesting subject that entertains as well as informs... that there is the good stuff, and requires reading a lot of writing that may be decent, but doesn't stand out enough to write on and link to.

Process of writing blog posts

Most all of the posts that aren't book reviews note and link to multiple pieces of excellent writing so each given post usually has a coherent theme I'm trying to write about and have the different pieces feed into. Once I've set aside in some fashion several notable pieces, the writing of the blog posts is then the attempt to convey in fairly short form what in the writing made it stand out. Additionally, the goal is often to make connections not only between the pieces linked to in a given post, but also between a given post and others posts done in the past.

Outcome of writing blog posts

It can certainly be quibbled with whether the effort and time put into this blog post writing and the reading that happens first is worthwhile, but it comes down to worthwhile being in the eye of the beholder.

From the reading I've learned a lot of interesting things and been exposed to some great writing. From the blog posting, I've gotten my thoughts out as to what made something great and done so on a consistent basis. At times the writing has been a slog to be sure, but efforts have resulted in 11+ posts being done each month of writing the blog. Out of these blog posts, there's come two self-published books, a repository of great writing on interesting subjects and connections with people who write professionally.

Point of the writing

Going forward, I'm sure there's ideas and themes that could be culled out from posts done and serve as the basis for future writing and maybe it'll all lead somewhere as more than an avocation. The statement could be made that "even if not, it's fine because...", but really the more salient point is the key thing is the process. The process of the reading and the considering and the writing and then the working with the writing is the thing I like to do. When you get down to it, this doing of the thing you like to do... there's a lot to be said for that.

With my diatribe now spelled out, there's an essay from the latest issue of Esquire that very much relates. "The Golden Age for Writers... is right now" was by Stephen Marche and his piece reinforces for me this idea of focusing on the process of doing the thing you like to do.

Ironic I suppose that the thing I like to do is being done through each word I write about it. Here's to there being much more to follow...