10 Minutes of a Writer’s Observations

10 Minutes of a Writer's Observations

Proofreading, comprehension, the value of the right translation, and who to read on Zen.


OK, 10 minutes of a writer’s observations, my perspective. If you are writing something that is particularly critical, like in the law or good luck to you, master’s thesis or dissertation for a doctorate. Whatever that is that you’re writing, final proofing is going to be done in hard copy, you’re going to print that out and you are going to find mistakes that show up readily on paper that were not easily identified, if at all, on the screen.

Why is that? I remember an old Chicago manual of style wrote about how typography, print lettering that’s was studied for generations. And what has been found is that. The best comprehension takes place between, say, sixty five and seventy two characters per line and of course on the Internet, on your phone, on all of your different displays and devices, you don’t have that. Also, you don’t have a full page in front of you and eight and a half by 11 sheet.

And there is something going on with the way that the eye scans across the page, back and forth that can’t be replicated. On a screen, so something super critical, something in the law, something in petroleum lease or a dissertation, you really need to print it out in a hardcopy and circle what you’ve missed. But here’s the deeper issue is that. If you’re not seeing that on the screen, if you’re not seeing those little mistakes, are you comprehending?

On the screen as well as you do in hard copy. Most probably not, because we skim on a screen, we don’t our eyes don’t focus, brains don’t accept that same information as they do in hard copy. Now, of course, we can’t print everything out that we need to read, but we can realize. We can understand that if we have something critical. We need to think about are we really getting this if I’m if I’m only reading it off a screen, am I really comprehending it?

Are my eyes really taking it in, like, hard copy and, you know, convenience wins out. Overall, everything’s moving to the screen. But I think the point to remember is that just as you can’t proofread final on the screen, I think the comprehension of a really difficult subject can only best be done on a chalkboard or on a piece of paper or written out, unfortunately. But there’s just something about the way the eye looks over and the way the brain accepts things.

What else, let me pass this. OK, writers, aides, writers, tools, how do you get going, how do you start? It’s always great when you have a great quotation to start with, because even if your article, even if your blog post is mediocre, which it probably will be if you start out strong. You at least get people reading, if I think there was a famous writer that said if if a reader isn’t engaged in that first paragraph, there is no reason for them to read your second paragraph.

And one of the best ways to get great quotations is to pick up a lot of famous quotation books. And you can my favorite used bookstore online is a Betacam like Abe Lincoln, maybe dot com. I’m not getting any pay for this. But now Bartlett’s familiar quotations, that’s fine. And you can get different versions that date back to the turn of the century for very little money, a very staid publication. I don’t find it very exciting, but you combine it with a variety of different cookbooks.

There are plenty of quotation resources on the Internet. They’re nothing compared to a book, a hard copy, a reference you can go through centuries. The quotations online are often formatted with a visual, with some pretty picture in the background. What you really want to do is be able to flip through dozens and dozens of pages very quickly. And in so doing. Not only are you going to find perhaps the quotation you need to start off an article, but you’re going to find plenty of quotations that are fodder for beginning an original article.

I’ve seen this in movies, too. They start off. A movie see the first screen with an interesting or compelling quote, you know, only the dead have seen the end of war, OK? I think that Cicero, you’re not getting better than that. So you’ve got a hook. So if you have a variety of quotation books. It’s really a great resource and let’s see where it’s six twenty. Some other unsolicited of advice is and I’ve written about this is Translation’s, there are certain works, Dante’s Inferno, Dostoyevsky’s.

Well, let’s go to Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Translations are everything, that’s why and I know you can’t do this online, but if you’ve got a big library, a university library in particular. If you find the translation that grips you, you’re going to be able to push through a necessary book far easier than say something the professor requires you to read, and that’s often a tragedy. They have their favorite translation, but it doesn’t work for you.

Find the translation that works for you if you are reading for yourself. I. And even beyond that, for example, on my grandfather’s bookshelf and he didn’t have many books, was Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. And I know just from casual looking around and being alive that Pilgrim’s progress along with Vanity Fair important works, but. Pilgrim’s, progress is just unreadable to me, but I did find sort of like a Reader’s Digest version of it at one point, sort of an Americanized American English version set contemporary.

Normally, I don’t like a Reader’s Digest approach, but it allowed me to get into the book. Get the main concepts, and I got a real solid understanding, even if I didn’t read it in the original form and it’s it’s similar, you know, with the Bible, you have to pick your version. You have to pick your translation for me, the Bible, the new Jerusalem Bible, the Catholic first edition that the Catholics did after Vatican two, and I’m not a Catholic.

That was an attempt at producing something in modern English that matched the grandeur of the King James version with the scholarship that had been developed just after World War Two with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. And that works for me, the new Jerusalem Bible, first edition. Unfortunately, they came out with a second edition. That’s far too easy to find. That’s not as as good. So look for the translation that works for you and what else.

One more thing. OK, one more thing, I know I have a number of young people following me and young people get caught up in Eastern religion, in Buddhism, Daoism, Confucius as well. OK, the Eastern religions, uh, Alan Watts was a popularizer back in the day. But what he was popularizing really were were the writings of D.T. Suzuki and Christmas Humphris. So if you’re going to get into this whole Zen Buddhism thing that was just read Christmas Humphris or D.T. Suzuki First and Skip Alan, what’s interpretation of those two guys were really brilliant in English and you’ll profit much, much better the other.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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