Writing, Difference, and Repetition

Levi’s made an excellent post here on the anxiety of writing in academia. This entry is timely for me since I am in the midst of a dissertation “write-in” at Chicago. I echo his call for those who are not writing on a regular basis (on blogs, comments, facebook notes, in sandboxes) to begin to do so. My few blog entries here have been the impetus for note taking, draft entries, and some mock responses to blog posts that haven’t been posted (I’m not quite over my anxiety yet).

I agree with Levi repetition is generative of positive results. Besides the assassination of the Other, which Levi describes better than I can, there’s a slackening in tension over the quality of writing and ideas. While I’m still not satisfied with my prose and am certain that others have said what I wanted to say with more dexterity, this process has helped form a greater familiarity with what it is I do want to say, shown me places where I need more development, and has eased my anxiety towards writing in general. On the technical side of things, I’ve begun to see where my expressions fall a little flat and have developed a seething disdain for the repetitive phrasing that my proofreaders have chastised me for.

To reiterate my comments in my briefs review of Toward Speculative Realism, it helps to see the writing process as a site of intellectual and technical development. Graduate school is, in a sense, Triple-A academia. It’s a training ground for early experience, to give you the chance to “get reps in” to sharpen your ideas and their expression. The student-you develops into the philosopher/student/writer-you with repetition over time. As a friend of mine once told me, “You’ve just got to learn that you suck, and start to get better.” You practice, see flaws, accept them, and improve.

As a last note, I’d also mention that posting publicly is an important part of the process. I haven’t had to deal with many of the downsides yet, since only a few people check in here, but the push into making oneself known as a writer in the public space is helpful in itself. For my fellow introverts, I promise its liberating. Yelling into a canyon and hearing an echo is better than never having yelled at all.

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~ by Michael L. Thomas on December 15, 2010.

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