|the soapbox @ benturner.com|
"Brevity is the Soul of Wit", an Essay
Perhaps it's about time I realized this. After writing that long vent about Napster and MP3s I realized that there was really no point to writing about stuff you read in all the newspaper articles and online e-zines. Besides, most people know the whole story anyway. My reason for writing about MP3s (again) was really because I had one concept stuck in my head.
And that's how most Soapboxes start. I come up with a cool little theory and then begin to write about the whole subject, dropping the theory somewhere in between the other purely informational crap, as if I were writing some sort of biography or historical summary or something.
The idea in MP3 piece was regarding the whole notion of how black markets come out of inefficient markets and how a successful businessman should examine where the biggest black markets are and then try to fill that niche with a legitimate business. But it was obfuscated with the reams of other wastes of words.
See, I'm really digging the whole concepts about markets and networks. After trading the stock market and learning about various theories about its valuation (when and how much information is priced into the market), and contributing to the Internet and its rapid growth, I've become obsessed with tapping into the natural flow of the world, sensing where things are shifting to and what will by necessity be hot in the future. It sure helps with stock plays, although I've yet to fully utilize it, partly because the market is fickle and decides on its own when it wants to take notice of trends.
So all that shit was just to satiate my little desire to talk about black markets, which didn't even end up happening much in the first place.
I guess what it requires is some training on the writer's part. See, I've never really had formal education in writing. Hell, I'm a product of the public school system. While I got red ink on my papers, I never really had intense teaching regarding the matter. And I'm not sure I would've taken well to it anyway. With my writing, I'm extremely protective of it, as most writers probably are before they're taught that revising and editing can be beneficial. In school I always wrote essays once the whole way through, and when I was done, I didn't spellcheck and didn't reread it. Just one run through and that was it. I was done. I didn't want to go back and ever look at it again.
This naturally led me to be completely unchecked and rough around the edges with my style. That's why I type out lengthy essays that could probably be streamlined to a few paragraphs with some creativity. I've never had anyone forcing me to be less verbose and more direct.
Another problem I have is that I utterly lack subtlety. If I go back and read my old poems and stories or whatever, I find that I drive the point home far too much and that only a reader as dumb as a pole would never understand the idea I was trying to get across. It gets to the point where it just sounds silly when read to oneself. Many of my favorite books are so subtle you have to do a lot of reading between the lines to get it, yet it's done so well that the point comes to you naturally and without much effort. It's like a rookie playing a grandmaster at chess and not realizing that after a few moves, the grandmaster already has him pinned.
But on the other side of the coin, writing those uber-long rants is cathartic for me, and the more I write, the longer I'll have to go before I write about it again. And after all these years I can honestly defend my position that I write for myself, not for anyone else. Hell, I don't really think more than just people stopping by this site for the first time read the 'Boxes these days. They used to have a small devoted following (including Anna, sigh) but now it's nothing. So this is all for myself, with no expectations to ever cultivate this into a book of sorts (wouldn't that be a trip...) or whatever.
Yet I still consider writing as something I'm active in. I don't consider myself to be good, although others say that I am. It's not really important to me. It's not the point. At this time in my life I'm really not interested in fame or any of that. It's more about having fun and testing my limits and learning about the world. I'm sure I'll begin to feel different as I get older.
What can I say? I get behind on Soapboxes because I run out of ideas or I get tired or I go away or something like that, I have no readership, I get no money out of this, I don't even get flame e-mails, it's all just something I do on my own.
Although it's gonna be a real trip when I'm 90 years old and I look at these pages and see how I developed and reflect on how writing helped me visualize my successes and put everything in perspective.
At any rate, I'm going to try to nail down the one or two points I want most to make, and then keep the rest simple. I want to be more succinct, more precise, more economic with my words. Like my father, the master, is with his. It's time I showed a little maturity and restraint in my writing.
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