Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Differing Arts

This is a time of deep consideration.

Last night my BFF and writing partner, Lauren, took me aside and we talked about the art of blogging. Her protests to the contrary side, she’s always been a polite and considerate person and an excellent friend. Last night was no exception. We talked about my intent towards the blog itself, my intended audience, and the style and approach I was using.

Now, it can be very difficult for me to listen to criticism. Especially when I think I’m doing a stellar job at something. And last night I was feeling pretty damn good about the whole writing situation, including the blogging. I’d just spent the last few hours talking to a fellow about Heinlein, and having the O4S series compared favorably to the works of Frank Herbert. Which, for those of you who don’t know, is rather like having your dancing compared to Fred Astaire. No doubt about it, I was a man doing well.

However, sometimes one encounters one of those “look up, look down, meet Mister Frying Pan” moments. And this was to be one of those times. And such times bear careful consideration.

Bless her, she was courteous, analytical, and precise. She gave me data. It was a damn fine conversation. Difficult, of course. I am a narcissistic swine, and standing on my ego enough to properly listen to criticism takes effort. But it was well worth it.

Ironically, the most telling moment for me was when Patrick piped up and said that he hadn’t even finished the entry he’d started, because of “TLDR”: Too Long Didn’t Read.

Jesus, I thought. They have an acronym for that? I know different subcultures have their own lingo, but, fuck, man! They couldn’t even be bothered to say “It was too long?” Or, “It was too wordy?” They couldn’t manage more than the first letters, eh? And it’s not even an acronym of a complete sentence, f’Gawd’s sake!

Visions assailed my tiny mind of the Hulk at a word processor, frowning at the screen, and Dr. Banner coming up quietly behind him.

“Well, Hulk,” quoth the Doctor, “What did you think?”

“Too long,” the behemoth replied. “Didn’t read.”

Patiently, Dr. Banner nodded. “Well, perhaps you should let them know that.”

“Hmm.” The Hulk considered this. Frowning in concentration, he carefully started to prod the keyboard.

“Do you know how to spell ‘too long—‘”

“Puny Banner should shut up now.” Carefully pushing the keys with one massive digit. “Tee . . .” The frown deepened. “Uh, ell . . . dee . . .” There was an injured bleep as several keys got mashed at once. “AAAARGH! HULK SMASH!”

Once Manhattan was safely stompled into a fine gritty paste, I pondered the matter. TLDR. Gad. The brain recoils. Who the fuck says TLDR? That’s like calling Chun Wong ‘Mr. W.” for short.

But that’s the trick, isn't it. It isn’t said. It isn’t even written. It’s typed. And that makes the difference.

I don’t listen to Mozart the same way I listen to Beethoven, or to Pete Seeger the same way I listen to the Dead Kennedys. I don’t view Picasso the same way I do Rembrandt. I don’t read Hunter Thompson like Lewis Carroll – though he’s similar in some ways to Mark Twain. Why, therefore, would it be logical to write a blog the same way I would write a written journal?

Bless you, dormouse.

So, I have the opportunity to develop a new skill in my writing. Always a good thing, learning. And, I get to expand my understanding of a cultural phenomenon and medium of communication and art. Which is pretty damn exciting.

After dinner (made of wonderful burritos with homemade tortillas), we watched Gosford Park and discussed the characters and the various plot twists therein. Then I went home, terrorized my Magnificent Offspring, and finally crashed.

Today, I was mentioning the conversation to my friends Kat and Chris, who have known me lo these many years. Before I even finished, Chris was nodding.

"You were at Maximum Verbosity," he said.

It is, it seems, a fair cop.



  1. Enjoyed reading this. For your edification, "TL:DR" started, I believe, in Silicon Valley, to discourage middle-management from writing novels on 4" x 5" memo slips. I myself have used it in speech, in much the same way that my daughter Katie and her friends say, "Oh Em Gee!"

    I've added your blog to my reading list, and I also promise to be kind.