What you’re looking at below is President Obama’s marks on a draft of his inauguration speech written by, presumably, his speechwriter.
A couple of thoughts on this image: It’s a hard copy. I can’t remember the last time I edited on paper or received edits on paper. The track changes feature on Word is my best friend. Also, look at how neat these edits are. I can’t write on a clean sheet of paper that neatly, much less in the narrow margins of a written document.
Finally, if the president’s speechwriter gets edited–and, in turn, the president himself gets edited on his own edits–then we can safely assume that no one is above the need for editing. If you’re a writer, you better have someone edit your work. Period.
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“I like stepping on ice when it cracks”
“Yeah me too. It’s like stepping on crunchy leaves.”
Crunchy leaves. I wonder why I say that. Crunchy is a word I normally associate with food, things I can taste. Like lettuce or cucumbers, they’re crunchy, but leaves? I’ve never eaten leaves before (well I mean the ones that fall off the trees during the fall) yet I still say they are “crunchy”. I wonder why I don’t use another word to describe they’re …. crunchiness? I guess it has to do with the sound they make underfoot. That sound that I go out of my way to create, *crunch*. The sound of fall- crunchy leaves.
“The thought process can never be complete without articulation.”
— Stephen King (The Stand, 885)
Reading that line immediately brought to mind a particular English teacher of mine (if you’re reading this, Hi Mrs.White!). Hands down, the past two years, being in her class I’ve learned the most in the ways of writing and thinking than I ever have with any other teacher. One of the reasons was because she really hammed home the fact that writing was an expression of thought, and that good writing come from good thought and good thought comes from good writing? Wait what … so to write you need to think and to think you need to write.
It took me a while to wrap my head around this concept but I think it’s finally starting to click. I find it hard sometimes to stick words down coherently on a page, to have it make sense and properly convey what I mean. A lot of people have told me that since I love to read, then by extension I must be good at writing as well. If only that was the case. In all honesty a blank page terrifies me. It stares at me, taunting me to put my jumble of ideas down, to make the electrical impulses that fire in my brain make sense on paper. Writing is not like a math equation, where you can put down variables and everyone will understand what you’re saying because you can solve for x and everyone’s x’s will turn out the same. In writing, x for me could stand for books but to you x could mean the overburdening weight of textbooks. I guess this is my fear. I fear that if I were to write “I love reading” that someone somewhere will misinterpret it and think I said “I love downing in words”. Practice makes perfect right? So I guess that’s why I’m still blogging, to spit out thoughts on the page and hope that my writing accurately reflects them or at least to an extent that no one is going to read this and think “Hmmm … this girl likes cheese.”
Imagine your bedroom. A room you’re familiar with, a room which filled with you-ness, just the way you like it. Now imagine you walk into your room, but instead of viewing your room through your eyes, you suddenly are looking at it from the point of view of an ant. Same room, yet at the same time, completely different. Nothing about the room has changed, only your perspective of the room.
To me this is what it feel like to read Klein’s novel, Ophelia. Diving back into 17th century Denmark felt good, but the world which I stepped back into seemed so different. Same place, yet at the same time, completely different. There were points in the novel where my mind would leap up in outrage thinking “That’s not what happened!” or “you can’t do that!” Prior knowledge of the storyline killed my experience reading the novel. My mind already had set in stone what was supposed to happen and looking at things from a new angle was made the story alien. It deviated from my thoughts and expectations. The shift in perspective the novel provided, however, made me realize how little we actually know about Ophelia in the play. We know almost nothing about her upbringing, her mannerisms, what she likes, what she dislikes. I guess that was Klein’s point. She really highlights the strength of women and she also made me realize how every character within a novel, no matter how small a role he/she plays, has a backstory of their own.
So the other day, writing my computer science exam, I was asked to create a flow chart showing how to make friends. My answer went somewhat like this:
This got me thinking about how we pick our friends. It peculiar how it happens, it’s sort of an unconscious decision (at least with me, I certainly am not like Sheldon Cooper, sticking to his “friendship algorithm”). I mean at first you strike up a conversation with a seemingly random person and sometimes, if you’re lucky, something clicks. Streaks of similarity or maybe it’s the pull of opposites, but whatever it is, somewhere along they line, this seemingly random person is no longer random, they aren’t even just an acquaintance anymore, they’ve become more than that, more important. They seem to somehow drift into the category of “friends”. They become a person you rely on, depend on. They are also that person who is able to accept you as who you are.
Stu, a character in Stephen King’s novel The Stand, says, when thinking of his dead friends, “In his memory there was a great tendency to downplay or completely forget their unlovable characteristics. […] The thoughts that came wanted to be wholly good.” (King 425). I think there’s some truth to that, but I think in some ways is missing out. We all wish to see good in our friends, but I think really your friends are those people who have learned not to overlook the worst in you but rather to accept those streaks of crazy and random for who you are. I think it’s that; the sum of all the good and bad and weird in you that really make up who you are, that makes you, you.