Many moons ago, in the days of LJ, I was a fairly prolific fan-translator in this one community. There was an anon meme started for people to talk about other people (wow), and eventually my name came up. The first person was like, “the translations are basically unreadable!” and then a defender came up and was like “hey, the translations are beautiful and hilarious and sometimes make me laugh until I cry!” And the thing is, dear reader, they were both right. You see, at the time I was cranking through about an interview a day just for my own practice; it was essentially me posting my (self-assigned homework). But I ALSO did partial (and occasionally full) translations for TV shows. These were intended to convey the material in a natural way (esp. when they were being used for subtitles) and were carefully revised and edited, unlike my sight-reading article posts. I eventually had to put a translations policy in bold at the top of every post to preempt people’s expectations.
Anyway, I guess it’s time to make the post about how I write posts.
Aside from the fact that I have some formatting cues that I use to try and communicate expectations (title? probably has at least an idea/argument. title AND cut? this is an actual thing I put work into), I also structure basically every post in the same way.
- Give a personal anecdote or specific example for context and to set the mood
- Introduce the main question of the piece
- Explore & develop arguments, moving steadily closer to my thesis
- Conclusion (in both senses)
Like, if you’re in a rush and want to know what I’m talking about, just scroll down and read the last paragraph? This is partially the way I think (I once saw a reblog with that lung cancer bad parking note with just “INTP“ as a comment and I have never felt so much fuckor), but it is also partially that–and this is key–my posts are more like (terrible) poetry than anything else.
What does that mean? It means you gotta read every word is what it means. My posts are already dense by virtue of my writing style, and then I often go through and cut them down more. I only say things once, and I’m very careful in my vocab choice. If you miss a sentence, or try to take just a bit out to respond to, there is a very good chance your experience of the post is ruined beyond repair.
Is this terrible? Yes! For everyone! Especially because it kills me when people write responses that are not at all what I was talking about–usually in response to the mood-setting anecdote. But when I don’t give a specific example, the outcome is apparently even more confusion, so that’s. Not a solution.
I’ve actually considered recording myself reading them and posting them as audio instead except guess what! If writing can’t support my level of idea density, spoken word SURE can’t.
Okay so then why do I do it? Because it is essential to the conversation I’m trying to effect.
On the most basic level, I think structuring things so you start with me at the start and then walk with me and end at the end is essential to creating a thoughtful, creative, fertile discourse. This isn’t an academic journal or a courtroom–I’m not (generally) trying to persuade or report. To me, the ideal post is a wild, writhing hydra–get two more for every idea you dissect.
But ultimately, as much as I have a goal going in, I want people to get out of it what is most relevant to them, and so in that way, I say, genuinely: please keep missing the point. Please keep Interrogating the Text from the Wrong Perspective. Please keep finding the ideas that are most Meaningful to you in my terrible, terrible prose-poetry.
I’m fairly certain that nothing I’ll ever write–ever could write–will be something to be lauded as Brilliant or Groundbreaking, but I don’t really want to be in the business of Telling People Things; not only am I bad at it but I am also often wrong. I’m much, much happier stirring things up and forming a springboard for whatever idea was already cooking in the reader’s mind and just needed some schmutz to crystallize.
…but do realize for those reasons I’m loathe accept any thrown-down gauntlets, either. You can love or hate my creations, but as far as we’re all are concerned, the Author is Dead. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pine for the fjords.