Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why I Call This Blog "Meanderings"

For me, as a student in English literature, the toughest thing about writing essays was the idea that you knew what you wanted to say before you even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). The smart students all had 3 x 5 cards with citations and supporting examples, organized according to proof point. They had a thesis statement carefully crafted.

I had those cards, too. But my cards were not organized. They were simply a stack of potential. More than anything, I usually had a catchy introductory sentence.

This is because I'm a very lateral thinker. Often I start writing about something without really knowing what my conclusion is going to be. Like the post I wrote about my dad and spilled milk. I knew I wanted to share the sweet relationship between my dad and me and how the one incident exemplified that, but I didn't know that when it came to the conclusion it would be about things that are worth shedding tears over.

In school (before these newfangled personal computer thingies were available), I would make a wild stab at what my thesis would be, then write my essay, then go back and rewrite the introductory paragraph and thesis statement, then type the whole thing for a "good copy." I write my blog much the same way. I have a general idea of what I want to discuss, but the actual form of the post is quite organic. Frequently, I learn something new along the way.

Of course, writing this way requires a lot of post-brain-dump editing. I probably spend as much time editing my posts as I do writing them. (For those who are curious, it takes me an hour or two to produce most posts (especially if I edit any pictures), though some are shorter.)

Word processing (as it was called back in the day) was a gift from the gods for me. It allowed me to stream my thoughts onto the screen, then drag, delete, and insert to my heart's content.

Occasionally, I forget to edit out all the stray bits from a thread that didn't make it into the final cut. That's why, last week, (my post about odd coincidences — you know, the one where everybody in Ottawa knows someone who lives on our street?) I had a non sequitur at the very beginning of the post about anecdote/antidote. One of my early titles was about anecdotes, and it twigged one of my Grammar Nazi reactions. I forgot to remove that bit when the story strayed far from anecdote land.

If I were going to edit that post today, I'd replace the anecdote/antidote jibe with a note about how my father used to pronounce coincidence as "co-inky-dink." Haha. My dad was such a card. It never got old.

[Can you tell Father's Day is approaching? I've mentioned my father twice in this single post.]

And that, right there, is an example of where my brain goes when one thing leads to another. Thank you for joining me on my occasional peripatetic stroll. I enjoy your company (and comments) and always discover something new.

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