EppsNet Archive: Writing

Twitter: 2009-11-13

Notes on Strategy from the Harvard Business School: http://bit.ly/1jTVWO # The fastest way to improve your interface is to improve your copy-writing. With examples: http://bit.ly/daUqF # Read more →

Twitter: 2009-08-11

Writing Microcopy http://bit.ly/pYMPz # Hof's Hut closes. Went there on my first date, then to a movie at the Cinedome, which was demolished 10 years ago. http://tinyurl.com/nkc2s8 # Read more →

Do Not Do What Someone Else Could Do

Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings. — André Gide Read more →

Metacognitive

My son’s got an assignment to write a “metacognitive” for English — basically a short essay describing the thought process he went through in writing a longer essay. “Let me know if you need any help,” I say. “You know my motto: I never metacognitive I didn’t like.” Read more →

Communication Bandwidth

As I’m writing this article, I’m trying to formulate ideas, understandings, and experiences into words. When you read this article, you try to understand what I’m saying within the context of your experiences. In the process of narrowing my bandwidth to words, and you trying to expand the bandwidth from words to your understanding, a lot is lost. No matter how well I write and you read. And, most of us are not superb writers and readers. — Ken Schwaber Read more →

So You Want to Be a Writer

The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it. — V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River This book would be a great gift from a parent to a child who is interested in becoming a writer. When Junior discovers that winning the Nobel Prize in Literature at age 69 entails spending most of one’s decades depressed, impoverished, ignored, and bitter, he will likely knuckle under and agree to pursue radiology. — Philip Greenspun Read more →

Stories

[S]tories hold power because they convey the illusion that life has purpose and direction. . . . Stories make sense when so much around us is senseless, and perhaps what makes them most comforting is that, while life goes on and pain goes on, stories do us the favor of ending. — John Hodgman, Sept. 25, 2001 Remember . . . Read more →

Why TV Shows Are So Stupid

Welcome to EppsNet, where the writers are not on strike! Striking writers are stupid. Pretend you’re a TV executive and your writers are on strike. Oh dear! What will I do? I’ll have to show reruns and only get 90 percent of the dimbulb audience I’d get showing new episodes. Boo hoo hoo! Television is the opiate of the masses, man! People will watch it no matter what’s on. They can’t live without it. We’ve got TVs in restaurants, health clubs, cars, you name it. They’re ubiquitous! The number of people like me — who think that if you want to eat dinner in front of a TV set you should stay the hell at home — is very small compared to the number of people who will not leave their homes if it means being separated from a television. Hey scribes! People are going to turn off their flat-panel… Read more →

Advertisement for Myself

I was laid off recently by a mortgage bank here in Southern California. Times are tough in the mortgage business, as you may have heard. First, some tips on how not to do a layoff: Call the layoff a “rightsizing,” which suggests that there was something “wrong” with the people who were let go. (Actually, the company I worked for has already announced another “rightsizing” in which 1,000 more people will be laid off over the next few months. They just can’t get these “rightsizings” right.) Overnight a layoff information packet, including a 20-page severance agreement, to the home of laid-off employees, asking them to sign and return it via the enclosed UPS envelope. Don’t enclose the UPS envelope. The next day, overnight a second packet to employees’ homes, containing the UPS envelope and a letter correcting phone numbers, email addresses and other misinformation in the previous day’s packet. Include… Read more →

T.J. Simers Must Die

I thought sports columnists were appointed for life, like Supreme Court justices, no matter how irrelevant they become, and yet I see that the Los Angeles Times has just dumped J.A. Adande. Well, by golly, that’s a good start! I can’t think of a single print columnist, at the Times or elsewhere, who’s remotely relevant anymore. There are dozens of sports websites (not that one — start at Deadspin and follow the links) with at least an order of magnitude more energy, insight and wit than you’ll find in your local print rag, which is why newspapers are going the way of the 8-track tape, the buggy whip and whale oil. The next in line to go at the Times should be fatuous blowhard T.J. Simers. Simers positions himself as a pot-stirring wiseass, and the line on him seems to be that if people don’t like him, he must be… Read more →

The Way to Write English

I notice that you use plain, simple English, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English–it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. — Mark Twain   Enron’s performance in 2000 was a success by any measure, as we continued to outdistance the competition and solidify our leadership in each of our major businesses. We have robust networks of strategic assets that we own or have contractual access to, which give us greater flexibility and speed to reliably deliver widespread logistical solutions. . . . We have metamorphosed from an asset-based pipeline and power generating company to a marketing and logistics company whose biggest assets are its well-established business approach and its innovative people. — Enron Annual Report, 2000 Source: Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide by Brian Fugere, Chelsea… Read more →

Driving a Car at Night

E. L. Doctorow once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” You don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard. — Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Read more →

Popsicles and Crucifixions

My creative-writing students say they’re postmodern, too. One wrote the relativist sentiment that popsicles and crucifixions were equal; I said it depended on which you were offered. — Oronte Churm Read more →

In Praise of Invective

Via Alicublog: He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of tosh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash. — H. L. Mencken, on the speeches of Warren G. Harding Read more →

Nelson Algren Goes to Hollywood

From a 1955 interview with Nelson Algren in The Paris Review: INTERVIEWER: How about this movie, The Man with the Golden Arm? ALGREN: Yeah. INTERVIEWER: Did you have anything to do with the script? ALGREN: No. No, I didn’t last long. I went out there for a thousand a week. and I worked Monday, and I got fired Wednesday. The guy that hired me was out of town Tuesday. Read more →

The Favor of Ending

[S]tories hold power because they convey the illusion that life has purpose and direction. Where God is absent from the lives of all but the most blessed, the writer, of all people, replaces that ordering principle. Stories make sense when so much around us is senseless, and perhaps what makes them most comforting is that, while life goes on and pain goes on, stories do us the favor of ending. — John Hodgman Read more →

Prolific Authors

George Murray, a poet and co-editor of the literary blog Bookninja.com, sees the near-annual release of a new Stephen King novel as ‘the literary equivalent of watching a skinny Japanese dude scarf down 100 hot dogs in an eating contest; you are kind of grossed out, but gotta hand it to him.’ Murray harbors a unique theory about what distinguishes a genre writer like King from a so-called serious artist like Joyce Carol Oates. ‘It seems with Oates the hotdog eater is a performance artist commenting on the nature of consumption and American hegemony,’ Murray avers. ‘With King it’s just a guy eating 100 hot dogs, then looking like he’s going to die of nitrate poisoning.’ — CBC.ca, “Automated Storyteller” Read more →

A Pretty Good One-Sentence Analysis of Blogs

True believers of one stripe or another, no longer content to merely bore spouses and neighbors with their nutty opinions, can now spew forth on their own blogs, thereby playing a pivotal role in creating the polarized climate that dominates debate on nearly every national issue. — Randell Beck Read more →

The Blog of Anne Frank

. . . everything can be taken from a man except one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. — Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. — Anne Frank On this date — September 2 — in 1944, Anne Frank was among 1,019 people on the 68th and last train from Holland to Auschwitz. Anne and others hiding with her had been betrayed and captured a month before and held in the Westerbork detention center. Read more →

Teaching Kids to Write

Having students write essays about books accomplishes three things. It makes them hate writing, because it’s such a fruitless, uninteresting assignment. It makes them hate reading, because even books they enjoy are turned against them. And it probably makes them hate thinking, because the kind of analysis they’re forced to do is so strained and dull. — Joseph Weisberg Read more →

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