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From ‘The Spooky Art’
‘Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing.
It’s a simple rule
If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time.
Count on me
You are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.
The point is that you have to maintain trustworthy relations.
If you wake up in the morning with a hangover can cannot get to literary work, your unconscious, after a few such failures appear, will withdraw.’
‘If you are ready to look upon your unconscious as a curious and semi alienated presence in yourself with whom you have to maintain decent relations – if you are able to see yourself as some sort of careless general and picture the unconscious as your often unruly cohort of troops – then, obviously, you wouldn’t dare to keep those troops out in the rain too long; certainly not at the commencement of any serious campaign. On the contrary, you make a pact: “work for me, fight for me, and I will honour and respect you.”’
‘To repeat: The rule is that if you say to yourself you are going to write tomorrow, then it doesn’t matter how badly you’re hungover or how promising is a sudden invitation in the morning to do something more enjoyable. No, you go in dutifully, slavishly, and you work.
This injunction is wholly anti-romantic in spirit
But if you subject yourself to this impost upon yourself, this diktat to be dependable, then after a period of time – it an take weeks, or more – the unconscious, nursing its disappointments, may begin to trust you again.’
‘On the other hand, you can sometimes say to yourself, “I’m not going to work tomorrow,” and the unconscious may even by now be close enough in accord not to flood your mind with brilliant and all-too-perishable material.
That is also important
Because in the course of going out and having the lively day and night you’re entitled too, you don’t want to keep having ideas about the book you’re on. Indeed, if you are able on your day off to avoid the unpleasant condition of being swarmed with thoughts about a work-in-progress when there is no pen in your hand, then you’ve arrived at one of the disciplines of a real writer. ‘
He wraps it up:
‘The rule in capsule
If you fail to show up in the morning after you vowed that you would be at your desk as you went to sleep last night, then you will walk around with ants in your brain.
Rule of thumb
Restlessness of mind can be measured by the number of promises that remain unkempt.’
In the Guardian Review, March 2003, William Boyd discussed the journal
‘There are many sort of journal: journals written with both eyes fixed firmly on posterity and other that were designed never to be read by anyone but the writer. There are journals content to tabulate the banal and humdrum details of ordinary lives and journals meant expressly to function as a witness to momentous events of history. There are journals that act as erotic stimulants or a psychoanalytic crutch and there are journals designed simply to function as an aide-memoire, perhaps as a rough draft for a later, more polished account of life and so on. But buried within these varying ambitions and motivations is a common factor that unites all these endeavours – the aspiration to be honest, to tell the truth. The implication being that in the privacy of this personal record, things will be said and observations made that couldn’t or wouldn’t be uttered in a more public forum. Hence the adjective “intimate” so often appended to the noun “journal”. The idea of secret diaries, of intimate journals, somehow goes to the core of this literary form: there is a default-setting of intimacy – of confession – in the private record of a life that not only encourages the writing of journals but also explains their fascination to the reader.’ William Boyd
I’ve written here often enough about why we blog.
I’d love to hear what you think. Why do we do it? The ‘we’ being the obsessive journal writers. I’m trying to gather ‘you’ (vous i.e. plural) into this debate.
William Boyd’s to Ten Journal Keepers
Keith Vaughan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Vaughan
Paul Klee. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Paul_Klee
Cyrical Connolly http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/cyril_connolly.html
Virginia Woof http://www.woolfonline.com/?q=diaries/vw/overview
Edmund Wilson http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/books/reviews/12446/
Valery Larbaud http://m.eb.com/topic/330472/Valery-Nicolas-Larbaud
‘It mimics and reflects our own wayward passage through time like no other writing form.’
‘You have to be dead to escape the various charges of vanity, of special-pleading, of creeping amour-propre.’
My diary http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diary
My deleterious exploits.
I’ve been at for thirty years; that isn’t a boast, it’s an confession. What Boyd says is true too, there’s no value in it until I die.
I wonder why? Often. But I do it anyway.
To save events in family life and to capture memories that may serve some literary purpose.
In the past I thought I might achieve something, it would become the record of a successful anything.
I can’t even do this properly.
I have details from estate agents (realtors) in France; I fancy a change. Different language, different culture, better weather – I should know. I’ve lived and loved there.
On vera. Il faut …
And the words fail me, I’ve not spoken French for five years and not written it for a decade.
Inspired by The History of English…in just a minute x10
I’ve got ‘The Secret Life of Words’ out again to enjoy a sustained romp through the WWW (weird world of words).
This History of English is a bite-sized comedic romp though academically sound-bite sized approach to learning – think “Just A Minute (BBC Radio 4) meets ‘The Reduced Shakespeare Company.’ I think Dr Who with ADHD having to explain his preference for these Isles in a 60 second count down to the end of the universe.
Which words leave you discombobulated?
Which ones left you tickled pink?
My journey through the English language has been refreshed.
I have read his ‘The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English’ from cover to cover. I’ll have to read his book on Dr Johnson’s Dictionary next. Or get my hands on Mencken’s book on ‘The American Language’ which the late Alistair Cook would often quote.
I’ve learnt about loan words, calques and coinage; words taken straight from a foreign language, expressions that are literal translations of a foreign language and invented words.
English is a language of constant invention.
I have a put down from the 16th century for any new fangled multiple-syllable techno babble I come across. I can call the author a ‘Controversialist’ – a writer who spurts out horrid polysyllables; and I might use the line, ‘such addicts of exotic terms would rarely use a short word where a long alternative could be found.’ From John Florio’s A Worlde of Wordes (1598)
I love the French loan word ‘Escargatoire’ which is ‘a nursery of snails’.
It amuses me that William Fox Talbot wanted to call photography ‘photogenic drawing’ while after Louis Daguerre we have ‘daguerreotype’ but pushed by Sir John Hersche ‘photography’ and ‘photo’ caught on. (Queen Victoria asked a grand-daughter for a ‘photo’ in a letter so that diminutive, the word not Herr Majesty, has older and loftier origins than we may have imagined).
I thought of ‘stakeholder’ as a word that had to be 1970s corporate speak, only to learn that it was first used in 1850, along with ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘capitalist.’
Etiquette has become ‘netiquette’ online
This is a Georgian notion and appears in Johnson’s dictionary of 1818. One piece of advice given regarding etiquette is to ‘be discreet and sparing of your words.’
Hitchings leaves mention of the Internet to the last pages of the final paragraph ‘Online communities, which are nothing if not eclectic, prove an especially rich breeding ground for new words.’
* deliriously ludic (sic)
Voiced by Clive Anderson, Scripted by Jon Hunter (R4 Mock the Week/The News Quiz)
“When did English speaking scientists get round to naming the most intimate of the sexual body parts?
Voiced by Clive Anderson, this entertaining romp through ‘The History of English’ squeezes 1600 years of history into 10 one-minute bites, uncovering the sources of English words and phrases from Shakespeare and the King James Bible to America and the Internet.
Bursting with fascinating facts, the series looks at how English grew from a small tongue into a major global language before reflecting on the future of English in the 21st century. “
Philip Sergeant (FELS) was the academic consultant.
The idea is based on the Open University course ‘Worlds of English’.
The History of English
The Secret Life of Words. How English Became English. Henry Hitchings. 2008
Who decides on whether to cut off the fingers of those who create and disseminate user generated content?
From Wikipedia with commentary.
Aggregated here though shared for the value of thinking about the myriad of ways we now generate content and the way user generated content has value that is different from content produced or published by institutions or corporations.
You see a programme and talk about it at a party. Or you talk about an event which a writer picks up and puts into a novel that is made into a film. Where does the conversational like disembodiment of the idea from a person’s head ‘find legs’ and get a life of its own. How should we use and value all of this ‘stuff?’ Perhaps in exactly the same way that we differentiate between journalism and scholarly writing, between chat (even if on topic) around the ‘water-cooler’ compared to a more formal teasing out of ideas in a tutorial.
It all matters, you just have to navigate around the choices with some sense of their different meanings and values.
What I favour about user generated content is how authentic and immediate it is. Think of the footage from smartphone of the Tsunami in Japan this March. The user generated content not only trumped the TV networks, but is already being applied in academic reseach by placing scholars at the point the footage was shot so that further analysis can be undertaken on what happened and the lessons to be learnt.
We live in interesting times.
For other uses, see UGC (disambiguation). User generated content (UGC) covers a range of media content available in a range of modern communications technologies.
It entered mainstream usage during 2005 having arisen in web publishing and new media content production circles.
Its use for a wide range of applications, including problem processing, news, gossip and research, reflects the expansion of media production through new technologies that are accessible and affordable to the general public.
All digital media technologies are included, such as question-answer databases, digital video, blogging, podcasting, forums, review-sites, social networking, mobile phone photography and wikis.
In addition to these technologies, user generated content may also employ a combination of open source, free software, and flexible licensing or related agreements to further reduce the barriers to collaboration, skill-building and discovery.
Sometimes UGC can constitute only a portion of a website.
For example on Amazon.com the majority of content is prepared by administrators, but numerous user reviews of the products being sold are submitted by regular users of the site.
Often UGC is partially or totally monitored by website administrators to avoid offensive content or language, copyright infringement issues, or simply to determine if the content posted is relevant to the site’s general theme.
Just because you ‘generate’ stuff doesn’t mean it will be permitted. How does a business or institution manage often valuable input from stakeholders? Do you ‘cut your face off to spite yourself’by disallowing such stuff? An organisation that shuts down the voices that sing its praises are surely shooting themselves in the foot.
The very nature of the networked, online, switched-on world in which we now leave favours those, like Cisco Systems with its 1300 employee blogs, that embrace what is going on. Indeed, this number of activity would and does quickly drown out the detractors. Use the power of the crowd to police your message, because you never can.
Think of it as having an Open Day every day. People come and go. But the crowds swell. Do you issue edicts then send trained staff off to tell people they can or annot talk about x or y, or talk at all? And if they are going to talk, it can only be in a specific location where everything you say will be recorded, delayed for moderation, and only then shared with a myriad of additional tags attached ot it that are not of your choice. Might this be like talking through a gas-mask.
I do wonder.
To fail to engage is to disappear. Institutions will be noticeable for their absence. The advantage the OU has are the numbers of students and alumni. If research suggests that only 1% of those active online blog, then the OU should expect 3,000 to be out there. If we add in alumni groups this figure might rise to 30,000?
(And don’t give me the generational thing … research, take that by Richardson 2003,2005,2007,2011 at the OU knocks that nonsense on the head). IT has nothing to do with when you were born, and everything to do with personality, education, having the kit and making the time.
Here’s a thought, if you want to police content who should do so? The publisher, editor or print unions? Does it not have to come down to the audience deciding what they consider acceptable or of interest to them or not?
Just let ’em have it.
There’s enough out there for the dross to get lost and enough like-minded people on your side to drown out the miscreants or the negativity as it inevitably, occasionally, occurs.
If someone is proud of who they are and where they work and what they do, let them sing its praises, let them create supportive content. Encourage, enable, even reward and from time to time offer additional resources if they are on a roll and readers are flocking to their banner.