Thursday, March 12, 2009

A little catch-up - and a little about the writing process

For anyone who's interested, I was quoted in a story in yesterday's edition of the NY Times. It's about the "story of the week" (at least in the NDY arena) - the arrests/investigations of the Final Exit Network members.

Link to story. My quote is on the second page about halfway down.

I'm hoping to have a video of a recent appearance on Fox News up soon. It will be useful in talking about just what it takes for me to prepare for those things.

I find that two things have really enhanced my ability to write.

1. The format and context of the blog as a medium;
2. The extensive material available to my searches on google.

See, I mostly don't have a problem trying to think of something I want to write about. I don't lack for things I wish to include in commentary or a critique.

My problem - usually - is seeing way too many valid angles to attack an issue from and too many important points to make. Plus, some of those angles and points might not be readily apparent to readers without a lot of explaining.

My mental processes are wildly associative. While in grad school, I was brainstorming with a classmate for an upcoming presentation on augmentative and alternative communication. I got on a roll and probably started talking for about ten minutes until I finally ended up talking about neanderthals and theories that they used sign language instead of speech.

At that point, my friend reeled me in, pointing out that this was a 30 minute presentation and there weren't going to be too many people in the audience dealing with neanderthals.

Point taken.

So, I have learned - mostly successfully - to narrow my points and approaches when writing. That means an enormous amount of time gets spent deciding which of my fabulous insights get jettisoned, changing my mind a few times and then gritting my teeth and writing the damn thing.

Yesterday's NDY post was pretty succesful in that way, I think. I stuck to one offhand reference to American humorist Will Rogers and focused on Irving Janis's theory of "groupthink."

Today, I had the pleasure of digging out some old "dirt" on some of the current (and unarrested) spokespersons for the Final Exit Network. They both have a nasty history with defending the killing of children with disabilities.

This is why I'm grateful to google. In the past, I'd have gone nuts trying to figure out where I'd read the things I'd remembered. Even if I saved hard copies of the material I thought of, they would undoubtedly be lost if they're more than a year old.

Google is wonderful. Ten minutes and all the old archived material was there for me to use, link and quote.

I'm not sure what I would have done in a world without computers and the internet.

S'all for now. --Stephen

1 comment:

sanda said...

I enjoy reading your writing. I'm only online about 16 months. It has been difficult learning HOW to ask a question for google search, the RIGHT question. Still learning.

If I could (and maybe someday I shall be able to), I'd do a blog on my art process.