Reposted on new blog at http://dynamitochondria.blogspot.com/2010/01/january-challenge-7-wall-of-text.html.
I had a couple special bullets in the old six shooter for when I just couldn't think of what to write this month. I was hoping not to have to use one this early in the month. It means I may have to use of them twice or come up with another one. In the section of Pragmatic Thinking and Learning I referenced on Jan 1st about Morning Pages, Hunt encourages the reader to write daily, no matter how good, just write. He gives an example of a guy who resolutely wrote the same sentence over and over again until he noticed, several days into the exercise, that other ideas were beginning to creep into his pages. I'm not planning to try precisely that trick. A long time ago, I payed a bit with stream of consciousness writing, but I found it really hard while writing longhand. Since then, I've discovered that words flow more easily for me on the keyboard than in longhand, but I haven't gone back stream of consciousness since that discovery. Those of you familiar with the style have probably already noted that I'm not really sticking to the pure form, taking the effort to actually form real sentences. But aside from that, I'm just typing whatever drivel happens to occur to me. Maybe I'll produce something worthwhile, maybe I'll make progress building a habit of writing, making occurences of "I have no idea what to write" more rare, maybe I'm just banging on my keyboard. Meh, whatever. I'm also taking the time to edit my spelling, and sometimes grammar, as I go, and when I'm done, before I post, I'll go back through and look for items to mark with relevant links. I've had plenty of people ask me why I do that, and about as many compliment me for doing it. It's one of the things I really like about hypertext, and I've written enough hypertext that it's just habit by now. Heck, I list hypertext on my resume under Technical Writing. It's a handy device when trying to maintain a tone or rhythm in your writing, not having to break out into asides to explain a topic that not all your readers will get. It makes for optional supplementary material for the reader. Knowledgeable readers don't need to follow the link unless they're curious, and topical novices can get valuable background info. If they even choose to click it. I've also gotten comments from people who complain that I've written over their head and either didn't think to click the link or just assumed that it would point to something else they wouldn't understand. I don't get that. I guess that sort of reader just isn't in my target audience. My journalism teacher also didn't care for it, but she and I really butted heads over a number of things. I list AP style on my resume, also under Technical Writing, but I find writing in that style pure torture, even worse than writing for military documentation, (you guessed it) also on my resume under Technical Writing. The military writing style is aimed at a 4th grade reading level. That's right 4th grade, and it's less torturous to write than AP style. The AP style strikes me as assuming that the reader is automatically an idiot and has to be coaxed through the piece with short hypersimplified sentences. I have an average sentence length of 26 words last I checked. I like complex sentence structures that require the reader to pay attention. Writing 6-10 word sentences preferred in AP makes the inside of my skull itch. OK, that's all I had to say about that, so we now return to our regularly scheduled wall of text. As I was saying above, this piece doesn't conform to the standard form of stream of consciousness, and I'm also employing elements of the wall of text form, which is generally considered bad form, as it ignores niceties of paragraph structure or even decent document design. It rambles on and on. Used appropriately though, I see it as the descendant of stream of consciousness. Not that it gets used properly most of the time. Wall of text is typically employed by writers who really don't know how to assemble an essay or a document of any sort, don't know how compartmentalize their text flow or move through their topic in reasonable chunks with a logical flow of ideas. Not that I really consider myself particularly proficient as an essayist. It's a style that I aspire to, but my skill in writing is mainly limited to technical writing, though even that is held back by my love of convoluted sentence structure. I've been asked if that originated in reading Marx, who wrote in the seriously convoluted style popular among German essayists of the late Eighteenth Century. I've read him, but my style really started to emerge much earlier than that. As far back as middle school, my English teachers have commented on my longer than average sentence length, though only my journalism professor in college really complained. I didn't get to Marx until early college. Maybe he had impact, but I really doubt it. I'm starting to wonder just how far I can really push this exercise. Even now, it's starting to get a little meta. That's probably not as helpful as it could be, but it did give me another bit to hyperlink. No no, now we're getting recursive. Time to stop.