Linkage on writing

For the lit-geeks inclined to spend their Saturday nights writing instead of doing homework or being particularly outgoing.

Reading suggestions on writing can be such a sticky subject, because people can get into the mindset of “How dare you say this is the the way to write?” (Much like people did with Mathias’s web design canon, come to think of it.) Granule of salt, a nice chill pill, and a bit of perspective, folks. Really.

Why, yes, I did just use the term “chill pill”. Welcome to the early nineties once again.

Minisinoo‘s written three articles on writing recently that have been sitting in my “read/comment/link” pile in Bloglines:

  1. Issues in Style: Sentence Length & Format
  2. Critique, critique, critique — also hits on what it means to edit.
  3. The vagaries of feedback.


The newspaper finished nice and early-ish last night (just after midnight), and the Weir(d) One (henceforth abbreviated to “WO”) and I stayed in the office late to work.

Well, you can’t get two talkative people like me and WO together and expect us to silently and diligently work. It ain’t going to happen. We talked about a variety of topics, including my research with Dr. M, during which I revealed my growing desire to stop doing research because it didn’t feel worthwhile anymore. Not that I felt the work itself was any less important, but moreso that I felt that I was doing it for the sake of not letting someone (me? Dr. M?) down or to fill a spot on the ol’ resume. I’m also tired of needing to drop things from my schedule, and I’m tired of feeling guilty for doing so. I’m tired of being a lazy, inefficient bum this quarter (which lowers my maximum saturation level and therefore increases the number of things I need to drop and the guilt I feel, etc., etc.).

So WO and I talked through the night. In a quick snapshot pro-con analysis at probably 03:00, it looked like the “cons”–and not the Scheme procedure–for keeping research outweighed the pros. My frustration with the project–which I can’t even put into words, necessarily–weighs on me and leads me to feel resentful/tired/stressed/exasperated/something so much of the time I think about the project.

Around and betwixt conversation, I finished off (among other things) the final draft of my slides for my presentation at the Butler Undergraduate Research Conference today. I wasn’t really ready for the presentation, and although I knew all the things I should say, I hadn’t scripted it out well enough for it to flow when practicing. I decided to rely on my high school experience (oh so long ago) with teaching and presentation-giving to get me through. See above about slacker bumness this quarter.

WO and I halted conversation at 05:00, and I went back to my room to recharge, shower, etc. so that we could depart at 07:00. The conversation about research had brought to the fore my resentment regarding how I’d let myself be pressured into giving the talk at Butler, and by the time I ran to turn in homework preemptively just before 07:00, I was in full-on surly bitch-mode. I damn near barked at Dr. M when she said “good morning”. It didn’t help it was damned cold outside and that I hadn’t had the foresight to wear a jacket.

So I slept on the way to Butler, with headphones playing my Hindi music to tune out the talkative boys. On arriving, I growled my way through group photos and ate a donut for breakfast (bleh). Then I ran to my assigned building–which was different from that of the chemists, since my talk was filed under “Math and Computer Science”–and started to [nervously] script out my talk (since I’d listed what was on each slide before I left campus). Dr. M hunted me down a little later and I ran through the presentation once, but at that point I was feeling much more confident. I had good slides and I was fairly sure I knew how to say what I needed to say to get the necessary chemistry info to the computer science folks.

I watched a Comp Sci presentation by Butler students, then stood up to give mine. I was very vaguely introduced; it’s amazing how the term “UV/VIS spectrophotometry” can kink up even the most verbose introducer’s tongue.

Then I looked out at the people in the room, all watching me, all seemingly interested in what I had to say. So I started talking to them. Not presenting, not “giving a talk”, but telling them what I wanted them to know about the work I’ve been doing. Then I stopped talking and took questions.

It was so simple. I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t shake. No butterflies in my stomach. The audience remained interested.

Better yet: I loved it, as much or more than I loved it in high school (despite the obligatory bitching beforehand, of course).

Sometimes I surprise myself. This time it was a pleasant surprise. What it means for the future (of research, of career options), I know not.

On marriage.

I’m not really writing anything reflective on this today, but I found some interesting linkage. Jane Galt wrote “A really, really, really long post about gay marriage that does not, in the end, support one side or the other“, followed by “A quick extra note on gay marriage.

Elf abstracts this to a discussion on legalizing polyamory (comments are interesting there, as well).

Sebastian Holsclaw also provides interesting commentary, touching on the crucial point that only those who see the value in an institution should be permitted to reform it. I’d never heard that before, but it smacks of common sense.

Two big pieces of news for the week.

  1. I very much have the option to go to Antarctica next winter. No classes stand in my way anymore.
  2. The chances of me living with Dr. 7 increased by a substantial amount yesterday when we found out that he will, in fact, most likely be becoming an academic for life. (“Doctor”, indeed…) This is good news.

In other news, I still can’t see well enough to read markerboards (or drive, subsequently), even with the drugs. Grr. Maybe it’s not allergies, but rather a genuine illness…