Wednesday, 9 October 2013

In Which Mineralogy Gives Me A Writing Lesson

Mineralogy is far-and-away the most difficult class I've ever had to take. We need to learn the properties of minerals, how to identify them, and how they interact with different geological processes. Somewhere along the way, we're learning the principles of writing scientific papers. Want to know a secret? 

They're boring. 

That's write, scientific papers are purposely written dry and dull, full of facts and observations but little else. And you know what? That's good. It serves the purpose. Flowery prose isn't what a reader needs in a scientific paper. 

But that makes it difficult for me, because I want to write things prettily

My mineralogy professor is aware of this, and gave us all a bit of advice that not only applies to scientific papers, but every kind of writing. 

"Listen to Bob Dylan songs," he said. "If there's anyone who knows how to write succinctly and get his point across, it's him. His songs are simple, concise, and convey a lot of information." 

Sure enough, when I got home I looked up a couple of his songs. This one stood out to me - Ballad of Hollis Brown. I won't post all the lyrics here, but here's the beginning: 

Hollis Brown
He lived on the outside of town
With his wife and five children
And his cabin brokin' down.

You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don't know how to smile.

And the song continues on like that, and conveys an extremely compelling and tragic tale. He uses repetition to great effect, and creates an atmosphere that instantly transports the reader into the story. And foreshadowing? He's got it down: 

Your grass is turning black
There's no water in your well
Your spent your last lone dollar
On seven shotgun shels.

So what do you think? Is there a particular trick he uses? Is there something his writing conveys that you wish you could mimic? I wish I could create an atmosphere like this song does!


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

For Day 1 - What I've Been Up To

I'm running short on time (big surprise), so I'm mostly just stopping by to say hello! 


My quarter is going a little crazy, so I promise I will get back to reading and commenting on all your blogs soon! Probably after I get home from work. 

Oh, yeah - I have a job now! I work at my school's tutoring center, and I absolutely love it. I'm also taking a couple of really difficult classes, so if my spelling and grammar tend to fall short, please be patient with me. My brain is fried already, and school started a week ago. 

Long story short, the reason I've been so absent recently (by which I mean several months) comes down to a few things that I don't necessary want to throw into a short blog post, but I probably will go into details in the next few weeks. Rest assured, I am still writing, even when I'm absent from the blogosphere. 

I can't wait to read what you've all been up to in your blogs, but in the meantime...

How ARE you? 


Monday, 30 September 2013

An Ambitious Journey (Hello Again!)

Believe it or not, finals did not actually take six months to study for. (I did pass though!) It did, however, take six months for me to gather the courage to peek my head out from under the covers. I haven't always been the most reliable blogger, but I usually try not to go half a year without showing up.

Usually. Key word there.

Ultimately, blogging is something I can sacrifice for better grades and personal writing time. Yet I don't want to treat this blog as a private journal, to be picked up whenever I please without any consideration for reader. So I waited until a time in my life when I felt like I could be at least somewhat regular with posting and commenting.

Alas, I'm still busy as ever, but I've notched out some time Wednesday mornings that I can post, and I think I can find times in the evenings to read and comment on other blogs (have I mentioned how much I miss you all?). I will only be posting once a week, but I will make that post, even if it's only a 'No time! Minerology homework!'. (Don't be surprised!)

Anyway, now that that business is over....

I miss writers. I miss readers. I miss reading.
But mostly I miss my friends.

I can't wait to hear what you've all been up to!