Sunday, 30 September 2012

Metaphors be with you


Let me give you something to think about today.  


Here is an excerpt from an article by Colin Nissan, "The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better than You Normally Do," where he gives his own set of advice to writers.  In this piece, he compares writing to a muscle and looks at what it takes to make it stronger.  Check it out.  Tell me what you think.  What does writing remind you of? What would you compare it to?  

WRITE EVERY DAY

Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing your insecurities.* Because that is what writing is all about.


Writing is a muscle you need to work out to strengthen.

From
 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WRITING BETTER THAN YOU NORMALLY DO.     BY COLIN NISSAN

*edited


Photo credit: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3056/2563550883_f8d4b693ff.jpg

Blog Round up 2.0




A writer, like an athlete, must ‘train’ every day. What did I (you) do today to keep in ‘form’?

-Susan Sontag (7/5/72)



Another week has come and gone and I hope everyone had a great weekend.  (I spent mine stand up paddle boarding at ECP! And well, reading your blogs and writing my own posts. Win!)  How did you spend your weekend?  


Anyway, last week, we spent a lot of time wrapping up some things, or finalizing assessments and in the middle of that, we had some opportunities to write entries, read each other's blogs , clear our  RSS feeds and comment or respond to bits that struck us.
  



I am happy to say that many of you took full advantage of those opportunities and this just makes my heart fat.  Here is this week's round up of blogs to visit, read, respond to. :)   Brava, loves! 

  1. Hazel - an insightful view on blogging.  and storms.
  2. Gianluca - a sport lover's look at spending on sports.
  3. Jack - his poetic take on beaches   and books
  4. Jimin - a lovely post on blogging. 
  5. Mahpara - if you love music, you'll love this post
  6. Toby - you will never look at drum kits the same way. 
  7. Denivy - a shot in the dark, a post on inspiration.
  8. Rebecca - a look at her Inner compass.
  9. Rosie - thought provoking post on Palm oil plantations.  
  10. Aisha - Book review on Suzanne Collin's Mockingjay 
  11. Emily - make sure you read and comment on her first chapter.
  12.  Rosalie - more thoughts on beaches. Make sure you check her earlier posts too.
  13. Annabelle - Dream exercise resulted in this.
  14. Cian - check out this eerie account of his dream about The Man.
  15. Michelle - Help her decode her random dream.
  16. Victoria - Check out her super post on mooncakes.
  17. Zoe - a personal post on ballet.  
  18. George - on sharing what's true to him.
  19. Lucy - on books and well, real life. 
  20. Ella - Check out her newest post on blogging.
  21. Caleb - a short post on his definition of music

So? What will you share this week?  How will you keep the conversation going? What can we all do to stay 'in form.'?

Finally, just a quick reminder:  don't forget to look at the tab on commenting. Helpful hints to make sure you are commenting with meat and grit and not fluff.  We also have new classroom signs hanging above the table for you to refer to, in case you need  immediate references while writing in the classroom. (Posters courtesy of Mr. R. next door. Thank you. They are lovely and useful!) Check them out.





Am waiting...

Neil Gaiman on Writing: a reblog

The function of writing is to explode one’s subject — transform it into something else. (Writing is a series of transformations.)   Writing means converting one’s liabilities (limitations) into advantages. For example, I don’t love what I’m writing. Okay, then — that’s also a way to write, a way that can produce interesting results.
-Susan Sontag (11/5/76)

As you all have figured out by now, my all time favorite author and artist is Neil Gaiman.

Idol 
He has inspired me to no end and he continues to do so in so many more ways.  He has written a lot of my favorite books and produced the best graphic novel series, in my opinion.  Recently, through a stroke of serendipity, Mr. Barlow from Outdoor Ed pointed me to a site that featured Gaiman's eight tips for writing.  I wanted to share it with you here.  (Thanks, Gareth!)  Tip number 5, 6 and 8 resonate with me the most. 

Again, use what you can. Ask questions.  Leave a comment so we can converse about your own writing journeys.  Would love to hear what you think, what advice you'll take and how all this may help you.  :)   

Here goes...


  1. Write
  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
  7. Laugh at your own jokes.
  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.     
Photo credit: http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6074/6053699860_def86b8e1d.jpg http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/09/28/neil-gaiman-8-rules-of-writing/

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Slicing the Deep Blue-Green Sea: Sibu, Malaysia


Wasabi holding the fort

Sleeping in the Forest 

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

from Sleeping In The Forest by Mary Oliver 
© Mary Oliver






There is this fact about me that I tend to always forget.  That no matter how much I love the city, I need to leave it once in awhile to regroup, recharge, rest and fully recover.  

Manila
I remember back in the Philippines, after three or four months of working non-stop, I would wonder why I was a little out of it, a little too tired, too often irritable and just not myself.  It would usually take my ending up in a weekend road trip  or quick flight to the beach after friends have coerced me to leave my computer for a moment that I would start to feel okay. No fail, every year around February, it would  be our week-long school field trip to the mountains up north  that would remind me that I had been in the city too long without escape.  After listening to the waves, smelling the ocean, feeling the sun on my skin, or being active outdoors or seeing old friends in bonnets and scarves, having piping hot mountain tea in St. Joseph’s Inn in Sagada right before we hit the caves, the rice fields and the trek to Echo Valley,  would I quickly realize that to be able to live and love in the city, I have to break away from it’s grasp before the asphyxiation puts me to sleep.  I’d forget that sometimes, I let the things I love suffocate me and it’s only when I am somewhere else that I’d realize, I am no longer breathing. Which then allows me to catch my breath again. To be myself again. To be able to come home to the city again.    

Boracay Sunset: Refuge

Banana Beach, Davao


   
Sagada 
On our way back from the rice fields 

Famous Filipino photographer, Tommy Hafalla and the elders
the Sagada Market 







Since moving to Singapore a  little over two months ago, I have fallen head over heels in love with my new spaces. Yup. Totally smitten. Everyone who knows me, knows this. That I am extremely happy here and totally in my element. I feel fulfilled, loved, relevant and purposeful.  I couldn’t ask for a better life.  But, it’s been two huge months of non-stop everything.   From furnishing a new home, meeting awesome people, nurturing connections and relationships, to going full throttle at school, it was not hard for me to forget yet again, that my new city and my work have made this workaholic warrior weary.   I didn’t know this of course, until I set foot on a bus with my 23 kids, sat on a boat for ten minutes with not one but two North Face bags filled with long sleeve rash guards, sunscreen, talcum powder, mosquito repellent, marshmallows, board shorts, my resolve and my stamina to go sea kayaking in Sibu, Malaysia.   

On our way

We made it 
Finding my way back to me 
The minute we got on to the jetty, I realized just how much I missed the ocean, missed being near nature, missed feeling the sun beat strongly on my face, and seeing my hand or my paddle slice the deep blue-green of the sea.  It was clear that I, well we, needed to step out of our crime scene classroom and let the great outdoors teach us about life and living and finding balance.  The minute we changed into our kayaking gear to test the waters that late afternoon up until our night paddle, I transformed from being a tired teacher to being an eager learner with my kids.  


We have arrived 
Kayaks in a row 

Tents ready 

Happy campers
Day 1 done and dusted 


Rise and shine 
we heart Sibu 
First meal in Sibu 

Waiting for Seb's debrief

And what did I learn?  A ton. From the awesome Outdoor Ed team (Mike, Jen, Seb and Madi), to sleeping on the earth, to kayaking 24k in three days, to listening to Madi's countless stories about Orion the Hunter and the white bellied sea eagle, I was a giddy, recharged camper when I came home.  It really felt like mother nature and four awesome Outdoor Ed teachers let me peek in their “classrooms.”  It was great to witness how a trip like this could change students’/people’s lives; the best PD on the planet, by far.  

Our classrooms for the week

Meet Madi, Mike, "Wasabi" and Jen



In a nutshell, here are five things I took away from our week in Sibu.  I feel so much of it succeeded because of the following:  
    
1.  All systems go
      Just like any other classroom, organization is key.  There was room to be yourself and have fun but that came with honoring the Outdoor Ed team's stellar system.  From retrieving gear to forming groups and/or the geese formation up, to camping and snorkeling at the kellong, until we cleaned the kayaks, kitchen ware and rolled up tent mats on the last day, there was a clear cut system that enabled everyone to work smoothly and efficiently.  There was a time and place for everything and everyone got on board quickly.  I chalked this up to the team's experience, planning and presence of mind.  
The whole class rafting up 


2.  There is no I in Team
      I believe in collaborative teaching and learning and I am lucky enough to be working with a team that seems to be cut from the same cloth.  My teaching partners and I meet almost everyday to plan, reflect, deconstruct, question and converse about what we are doing in our classrooms. We listen to each other and collaborate like fiends.  I saw the same thing during the Sibu trip.  The left hand always knew what the right hand was doing and everyone had the kids' safety in mind.  Even if we broke into four different groups (where I jumped from one group to another, from day to day), kayaking in different spots in the open sea, a collaborative string always tied the team together.    Every night, when the kids were asleep, the instructors would quickly get together to review the plan for the next day.  It was awesome to watch and be involved.  

3.  Wasabi was the man
    Now, even if the team was already a well oiled machine, that was made possible because there was still someone leading and driving the plan forward.  Seb, a.k.a. Wasabi, was a great team leader.  He was calm, decisive, smart, motivated, inspiring, kind and really good with kids.  He asked questions with intent and clearly had a plan that he was stringing together. He began the kids' journey with his three-pronged strategy - 'Play Hard. Play Safe. Play Fair" and helped them connect the dots along the way.   

Wasabi

4.  Passion for the outdoors
   It was clear that the team loved what they did and that made all the difference.  Mike became like a kid in a candy store when he talked about the Tides. Jen's favorite day was camping at the spit where she could just be one with the stars.  Madi was most inspired when he generously shared stories upon stories of the mangroves, the birds, Sibu's wildlife.  Listening to them talk about their love for the outdoors reminded me of my love for it too.   I know it is easy to romanticize the Sibu trip now that I am back in my own bed.  I mean, I loved the kayaking for sure but there were parts that I needed some help with to change my perspective.  Like brushing my teeth without a sink.  Their appreciation and respect for the great outdoors, helped me forget everything that was uncomfortable.  

Mike teaching the kids about the Tides
Boys planning the route

Jen working with the kids 

5.  Finding balance and paying attention
     The trip taught me a lot about finding balance. I quickly found out on our way to Malaysia that my phone wouldn't work in Sibu; that I wouldn't have access to the internet 24/7, that I couldn't check my online spaces when I would get the urge to feel connected with my life in the city, and this freaked me out a little bit in the beginning.  Seriously. I was like a junkie going through Instagram and Twitter withdrawals on the first day.  By night time though, I made a decision to let it go. To relish being disconnected. To focus on my kids. To embrace the beautiful ocean, rock face and fresh air.  It felt liberating to only have two hours every night with the internet.  It allowed me to share what was most important and shut down when there was nothing else to read or say. Days were all about the kids, the paddle and the sun. It felt great to remember once again what it was like to be completely present in a physical place.  

After the trip, I asked my kids to write about their experience as well.  Here are some of their posts: 

1. Aroni
2. Dhruv 
3. Ella 
4. Lucas
5. Marcus
6. Navya 
7. Nikhil 
8. Rosie
9. Veer
10.Courtney
11. Kharil
12. Phoebe
13. Mizuks
14. Animesh
15.Aru 
16. Eleanor
17. Nikita
18. Tom


Here are more of my favorite snaps of the trip. 

My favorite snap of the trip: Rosie 

Early morning Kayak: Day 2 

7PGu with the team 

Chilling 

Anyway, what about you? Is there anything about your Sibu trip you'd like to share?  How does traveling or getting out of the city or your comfort zone affect you? 

Would love to hear about it. Leave a comment or blog about it too.  :)   

Blog2Learn: Mano a Mano - a cross post

Had a short conversation with Mrs. Beasley in the library today and she suggested that I crosspost some entries from my other blog here.  :)  It's a conversation that involves you so I thought it was important to let you in on it more explicitly.  Here goes...


No better way to meet a person than to meet their mind first. - Clay Burell


It’s really interesting to watch a conversation grow. Especially when you take part in it midway; not at the very beginning or the tail end but right smack in the middle of the complicated, swirly marinade of people’s differing perspectives, questions, assertions, speculation, preconceived notions, hopes and dreams. It has been on the table for a while, the discourse on student blogging. From its value, relevance, usefulness and purpose, the idea of using blogging to learn has received varying responses, both encouraging and dismissive. Out there, die hard believers and skeptics alike roam the same pedagogical hallways, crossing paths as they agree to disagree. 

Last Sept 11, UWCSEA had the opportunity to create a space for more people to engage in this exciting conversation mano a mano. With a panel of three made up of UWCSEA East’s Jabiz Raisdana, the renowned Clay Burell from Singapore American School and one of his History students, Hayden, a group of teachers, administrators, students and parents sat together in the Kishore Mahbubani Library at the UWCSEA East Campus and continued the conversation I feel lucky enough to have been part of.

Four generations of white rabbits: Jeff, Clay, Hayden and Jabiz
The hour and a half long discussion was peppered with personal stories, insights, testimonies, admiration for the great work people are doing to push blogging to learn forward and profound responses to thought provoking, and challenging questions from the audience and #blog2learn tweets. Questions about privacy, purpose, value, authenticity, audience, safety, how and where to begin, assessment and systems were some of the few plaguing people's minds. 

#Blog2Learn

 In the end, here’s what most of us took away:

 1. People's blogging journeys usually begin with the pursuit of a "white rabbit."  It's a kind of indirect mentoring that takes place organically.  A younger Jabiz followed Clay for years before Jabiz learned to trust his own online voice.  Clay acknowledged Jeff Utecht, who was also in the room that day, as his white rabbit. Many people there looked toward Jabiz and thought or tweeted that he was theirs.  Well, you get the picture.  A lot of people I follow now followed someone else through the rabbit hole and have felt the same admiration, vulnerability, motivation and inspiration. And yes, the ripples are multiplying.  It's an exciting leap of faith that has lead to amazing things happening. 

 2. Blogging is writing. And that means differently to different people. To Clay, it's about rigor and preparing his students for university and the future. For Jabiz, it's about giving his 15 year old self and other young people the space to feel safe to share what means a lot to them. Either way, it has been about a cultivation of voice, a discovering of self, and expression of ideas and creativity to an audience that's out there. Victoria, a Gr 8 student from UWCSEA-East couldn't have said it better in her student blog, "Recently I went to conference called "Blog to Learn", where experienced bloggers would talk to people about how blogging could make education that much better. The conference was immensely interesting, and I felt that I gained a lot of knowledge about blogging. The most important message that I've gotten out of it was that to become a better blogger, you actually have to blog. This means, that you shouldn't keep stalling or getting paranoid that somebody is a tremendously better blogger than you. Instead, you should be working to your upmost potential and possibly use that as motivation." 

 3. Finally, the most amazing thing about blogging is the community building it enables. It doesn't matter if it's a class of 22 Grade 7 students reading a post on Sharks, a Middle School teacher in Singapore interested in the students' blogs of a Robotics class in Bangkok, or a young blogger getting 27 comments from all over after posting this, the idea that people can authentically share, get immediate feedback, build relationships and cultivate conviction will keep that authentic conversation going. Discussions in the classroom will never be the same again. I believe when students find a way to carve a home in the online sphere, they expand and break down the four walls of any classroom. What about you?  What questions are you asking about blogging to learn?  Where are you finding your answers?  Please, feel free to join the conversation.
To blog or not to blog, that is the question


More Student voices:

Blogging is like a giant piece of paper. Imagine. The paper goes on for as far as you can see in all directions, just a plain white sheet of paper. There is only tiny mark on it, right where you are standing. Your name. In your hand, you realize that you're holding a paint palette containing paints of every colour of the rainbow, thick and thin brushes, pens and crayons.Then you realize that this paper is yours. All yours. You can draw, paint, write, scribble, colour, decorate and splatter on your paper. You can rip it, stamp on it, stick it, flip it, tear it, poke it, cut it, and scrunch it up. You can get others to judge your paper, support you as you draw, and give you ideas. And the best part is that the paper will never ever run out.
When you look back after years of work on your paper, you realize how you drew what you loved, what you hated, what you wanted, what you felt, what you needed, what you had, where you were, what you were, when you were. You have made one beautiful piece of art that is unique and will always be unique. You have made yourself into art. Hazel, Gr 8
I really enjoy the blogging part of english as I find it my best and most fun way for me to expresses how I feel and what's going on in my life. I think that all English classes should set up blogs because its just a site. A site that turns in to something immensely amazing and beautiful. But the most important thing about thing about blogs is that it come in an empty space I think. It's like a sand box. You can build, houses, castle, dungeons, pyramids. You build from your background knowledge, you build from your experiences and you build about yourself that's why I love blogging. It's your sand box, let the building begin and so will I! - Kaymin, Gr 7

I love blogging now. I am not even sure if it is related to english. But I am loving it. It is like a journal, where you can share your thoughts, experiences, and ideas. It is a whole new world for me. I think that blogging is going to have a good future for me because later in my life, my teachers, my employers, my kids, will see this. - Dhruv, Gr 7
 
When I first found out that we were setting up blogs I cringed, I have had really bad experiences with blogging in the past but I realized that if you do it properly blogging isn’t all that bad. I have realized that you can share so many ideas whilst blogging. I have really found that it has helped with my writing, but really we have only scraped the surface of writing and the full extents of blogging. - George, Gr 8


With the introduction of blogs you're allowed to go to the max and well show off your skills in English but still with some guidelines. With the ability to look at one another's work you can inspire and share ideas of which could eventually finish the puzzle your work can be. From a good paragraph opener to a good finishing of a story or poem or any sort of English related work we do. As well as the ability of others to look at your work and you to look at others. I am not now just creating work of what seems useless to me besides gaining me a grade level at the end of the year and entertaining my teacher, instead I am creating something of which people around the world can view, family can view, teachers can view and class mates can view. - Blair, Gr 8

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

You've Got This


Nothing like a midweek pick-me-up for my young bloggers.  A lot of you are doing great stuff on your blogs. So keep at it.  But those who need a little bit of a push for whatever reason (hesitation, fear, laziness, confusion...you get what I mean). Here's a short video by Danielle LaPorte on how to make IT happen.  Watch this...


 

The spaces have been created. The opportunities are at your fingertips.  The stage is set.  So? How will you make it happen (whatever IT is)?  What will you do do/write/blog today to make your ideal, real?  What will you do/say/write to demonstrate how you respect your fear?  How will you make use of  the beginner's open mind?  What will you launch to learn?  

I am stoked to see. Surprise me.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Kurt Vonnegut's Elements of Style: a reblog

Inspired by Mr. Raisdana's most recent post on writing by Zadie Smith, here is a piece I've shared with many of my students the past few years on writing clearly, simply and with style by Kurt Vonnegut.  Enjoy and apply immediately.  I know. I grew up on Strunk and White too.  As you blog and blog some more, it won't hurt to pay attention to some of what these writers are saying.  Take what you need, what works for you but don't ignore.  Most of them have a clue.

Do you have any authors you'd love to quote and take advice from?  Share links and ideas with the rest us in the comments below or well, blog about it.  :)  
















How to Write With Style

by Kurt Vonnegut


Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writings. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.
These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful --- ? And on and on.
Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you're writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead --- or, worse, they will stop reading you.
The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don't you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an emptyheaded writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.
So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head.

1. Find a subject you care about
Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.
I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way --- although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.

2. Do not ramble, though
I won't ramble on about that.

3. Keep it simple
As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. "To be or not to be?" asks Shakespeare's Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story "Eveline" is this one: "She was tired." At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do.
Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred. The Bible opens with a sentence well within the writing skills of a lively fourteen-year-old: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

4. Have guts to cut
It may be that you, too, are capable of making necklaces for Cleopatra, so to speak. But your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.

5. Sound like yourself
The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. English was Conrad's third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench.
In some of the more remote hollows of Appalachia, children still grow up hearing songs and locutions of Elizabethan times. Yes, and many Americans grow up hearing a language other than English, or an English dialect a majority of Americans cannot understand.
All these varieties of speech are beautiful, just as the varieties of butterflies are beautiful. No matter what your first language, you should treasure it all your life. If it happens to not be standard English, and if it shows itself when your write standard English, the result is usually delightful, like a very pretty girl with one eye that is green and one that is blue.
I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.

6. Say what you mean
I used to be exasperated by such teachers, but am no more. I understand now that all those antique essays and stories with which I was to compare my own work were not magnificent for their datedness or foreignness, but for saying precisely what their authors meant them to say. My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. The teachers did not want to turn me into an Englishman after all. They hoped that I would become understandable --- and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledy-piggledy, I would simply not be understood. So you, too, had better avoid Picasso-style or jazz-style writing, if you have something worth saying and wish to be understood.
Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us.

7. Pity the readers
They have to identify thousands of little marks on paper, and make sense of them immediately. They have to read, an art so difficult that most people don't really master it even after having studied it all through grade school and high school --- twelve long years.
So this discussion must finally acknowledge that our stylistic options as writers are neither numerous nor glamorous, since our readers are bound to be such imperfect artists. Our audience requires us to be sympathetic and patient readers, ever willing to simplify and clarify --- whereas we would rather soar high above the crowd, singing like nightingales.
That is the bad news. The good news is that we Americans are governed under a unique Constitution, which allows us to write whatever we please without fear of punishment. So the most meaningful aspect of our styles, which is what we choose to write about, is utterly unlimited.

8. For really detailed advice
For a discussion of literary style in a narrower sense, in a more technical sense, I recommend to your attention The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. E.B. White is, of course, one of the most admirable literary stylists this country has so far produced.
You should realize, too, that no one would care how well or badly Mr. White expressed himself, if he did not have perfectly enchanting things to say.

In Sum:

1. Find a subject you care about
2. Do not ramble, though
3. Keep it simple
4. Have guts to cut
5. Sound like yourself
6. Say what you mean
7. Pity the readers

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Creating and Defining Spaces



You fail only if you stop writing. 




I must say it's been tough being away. No matter how wonderful the 7PGu Sibu trip was (a blog post about that coming soon), a fraction of my consciousness was on the rest of you.  Every night from 9:45 until midnight, the only time I had proper internet connection, I watched the numbers on my RSS Feed rise and felt my excitement to skim, read and comment on your posts grow. In light of being balanced and being fair to my mentor class who demanded my undivided attention however, I had to let go of my phone/iPad and let my Reader wait.  
Anyway, there are many posts brewing in my mind right now and I wish I could write and publish as quickly as I think. There's so much I want to tell you guys but am at a loss for the right language.  I guess, if I had to think of a word right now it would be, wow.  A few weeks ago, I asked you what you would do with the spaces we have created? How you would make the most of it? What will you build, say, share?  And yup, in a word, wow.  I am really happy for the most part, with where you are taking the blogs and the table.  I love the questions you are asking, love reading about the things you are sharing and am pretty stoked with how you have embraced the different possibilities. The best part is, this is just the beginning.  
I do have more to say and I will soon. There's a lot of stuff swimming in mind that will be broken up into several posts.  For now, here is a round up of some blogs you can visit.  

Arjun - http://thespectrumarjuni.blogspot.sg/2012/09/my-drawing-of-joker.html
Georgina - http://carpediemgeorginat.blogspot.sg/2012/09/reflecting.html
Kristina - http://justmekristinad.blogspot.sg/2012/09/q.html
Ayushi- http://livelifetoyourfullest-aayushi-t.blogspot.sg/2012/09/our-first-dip-into-ocean-of-writing.html
Freya - http://20secondsofcouragefreyak.blogspot.sg/2012/09/a-snowball-rolling-down-mountain.html
Kaymin - http://infinite-kaymin.blogspot.sg/2012/09/blogging-is-like-minecraft.html
Sam -http://theperformingartsiswhereibelongsamc.blogspot.sg/2012/09/my-passion-as-vignette.html
Aru -http://abovetheskyarug.blogspot.sg/2012/09/a-cloud-in-sky_11.html
Aroni - http://determinatearonis.blogspot.sg/2012/09/sibu-kayaking-trip.html
Hazel - http://littlepurpleowls-hazels.blogspot.sg/2012/09/an-eye-for-eye.html
Molly -http://tomorrowisanotherday-mollys.blogspot.sg/2012/09/getting-new-pair-of-sunglasses-3.html
Shantanu - http://expressionsshantanus.blogspot.sg/2012/09/class-reflections.html
Victoria - http://thehybridworldvictoriab.blogspot.sg/ and http://thehybridworldvictoriab.blogspot.sg/p/my-vintage-camera-collection_21.html
Rahil - http://yolorahilm.blogspot.sg/2012/09/into-wild-this-book-is-fascinating.html
Rommy - http://alfrescorommyw.blogspot.sg/2012/09/in-class-so-far.html
Kartikay - http://thegamingyakitrak.blogspot.sg/2012/09/bias_23.html

Traverse these spaces and see what strikes you. Read. Comment meaningfully. Then write some more.

Boy, it's good to be back.  I've missed you guys.