READING/WRITING : LUSENET : Naked Eye : One Thread

When you read are you more captivated by a style or a story. Or will you accept nothing but the best of both? When you write are you more concerned with the flow of the information or the feel of the words? Or - whatever thoughts you have on this topic - I'd love to discuss this one.


-- Catherine (, November 14, 1999


I accept nothing but the best of both. This was not true when I was a young man. Back then I read both crap and delicacy. Nowadays I realize that I haven't time left for the crap. I love words, too. I even love the word 'crap,' but only when it's well put with the rest.

Like you, Catherine, I love my web site, although lately I've come to understand that it is not an online journal. I do not post every day, just because I am concerned with both the flow of words and the significance of story. I write for a while, and if the music refuses to play itself, or the story will not make itself apparent, then I quit and try again another day.

Yes, the Internet is a fantastic place for experiment, but I think Mr. Sturgeon might have upped his famed percentage had he lived long enough to suffer the abundance of misspelled and wobbly Internet crap. It's all a treasure hunt without a map.

I am one person, one voice. This is m

Hi Anthony ... Catherine here ...

Although I agree with you that the net contains a great deal of work which is unpolished I celebrate it, in some ways, moreso because of that. It appeals to me that such a expansive medium is available to everyone. I always figure I can go anywhere - or not - as things appeal (or don't) to me and my sensibilities.

I admit to thinking my taste is good. I have such an ego about some things. And I try hard - although not always successfully - to not let my sensibilities lead me into snobbery.

I remember my first web page. It was so awful that ... well, it truly horrendous. Blech.

So I figure that some people have improvement in them and that makes the whole thing worthwhile, I think. So, yes - there is a lot of not very good stuff out there but without the milk, one gets no cream.

In reading, I like to be carried away. I like writing like yours, for instance, because it is very dramatic - and not in a forced feeling way. I don't ever get the sense that you are creating drama - although I do sometimes think you are supressing drama. Odd, eh? I get the sense that *you* are dramatic - and so your writing strikes me that way. I loved Hemmingway for the same reason. When people say he is not dramatic I laugh like silly. Minimalism, indeed.

I like to feel, somewhere on my body or in my mind, a reaction to the words. I like them to appeal to my musical sense - they should "sound" ryhthmic in my mind and yet not pander to form and lose function. Heyoka is another who is very dramatic and while she employs some themes (no capitalization) that I sometimes have a hard with her work is so well worth the read that I go faithfully. Slavishly, even. :) And I admire her ability to draw me into her moment. S0, there are always exceptions. My work breaks every grammar and usage rule around. It's an English teacher's worst nightmare, I imagine. I don't really know any of rules. Conjugaitons and apostrophes, possessive and pluralization - who knows? I make it up as I go.

And I should dislike it, I think, if people judged the value of what I have to say based upon my adherence to a set of rules which I actually can't understand.

You are a story teller, I think. I love your stories - the captured moments of your life. I appreciate all the passions of the moment you record. I think you have a great story in you about a boy that learned to love all the absurdity of humanity.

Or about an immigrant coffee bean vendor.

Or something.

If you had to characterize the story in you - what would you call it?

I babbled.

It's Sunday, what can I say?


-- Anthony V. Toscano (, November 14, 1999.

>If you had to characterize the story in you - what would you call it?

'Innocence Obliterated'

And yes, Catherine, I appreciate what you have to say about the wild experiment of writing on the Internet, but I did not mean to speak of rules for their own sake (and if, as you claim, you are unsure of the rules of grammar, then you are a natural). Certain rules are a matter of common courtesy and dignity. If I claim that I am a writer -- I do not, but so many scribblers on the net name themselves so -- then for sake of dignity I check the details before I post a story, details such as spelling, noun-verb agreement and the like. I am irked by the arrogance of people who claim the lofty title, 'writer,' and then show such little respect for the tools the job requires that they cannot be bothered to use a dictionary or a spell checker. I love language. A mistake is just that, and I make a lot of them. Blithe indifference is another matter.

And yes, I judge the efforts of people who claim to be writers, just as I judge the efforts of people who claim to be physicians, lawyers artists and musicians.

Have you noticed how many people nowadays claim to be writers just because they can afford over-priced blank books from Barnes & Noble, email software and an Internet account? I should buy myself a scalpel and begin to practi

Hey Anthony ... Catherine here, again ...

I presume the cut off portion to read "medicine" - I guess we have a limit on words... which is sort of funny considering the topic.

I think I appreciate your position - I have a sense of the term "writer" as having a certain value. I also feel protective of it. And wish people would not disrespect it by not bothering with at least a sound structure - eg: spelling, punctuation, flow. Even if your style is avante garde - I would expect some care to be put into its overall presentation. You are not a poet, a poetic writer or a writer at all *just* because you don't use capitals.

I do think of myself as a writer. It is the only constant identity I have - that I have had since I can remember knowing anything at all. And I think of you as a writer in the same way I think of me as a writer. It feels to me as if you have always known you were one. I do not know if I am a good one. But I am one.

Innocence Obliterated? I do not believe it.

Mine would be Innocence Redux, perhaps. I always thought I had none left, too. Oi! The stuff I've discovered I don't know. Heh.


-- Anthony V. Toscano (, November 14, 1999.

Hi Catherine,

Started to send you an email but then I thought, what the heck - post it to the forum - that's probably easier anyway.

I love words too - and I understood what you meant when you talked about that. I read for many different reasons - just as I write for many different reasons - and sometimes, it's for the story - other times - for the words. In reading and in writing. Yes. Reading stories like Anthony writes is like enjoying a splendid meal. His stories stay with me a long time and make me feel satisfied - full. Reading your journal is sometimes like that - it was today - but most of the time - I think it's more like the delicious Ben & Jerry's that's on your page today. It's rich and satisfying and a delight to the senses.

Does that make one better than the other? I don't think so. Both are wonderful. Both are satisfying. Life wouldn't be nearly as full and good without both. Does that make any sense at all?

I also wanted to tell you that your writing today about acceptance - and grabbing the joy that is already there in front of you - that touched me very deeply. I thought you should know that. You are indeed, a born writer.


-- Sandy (, November 14, 1999.

I should buy myself a scalpel and begin to practice slicing flesh. That's what I tried to post.

And please believe the title of my story. I have no innocence left inside me. When I meet a person for the first time I listen and I watch, but inside I think, 'Prove to me that you are who you say you are.' Patience is not a virtue, although for some it is a gift, a gift I haven't time to entertain.

And no, I do not consider myself a writer, but you, Catherine, you proved your gift a thousand lines

-- Anthony V. Toscano (, November 14, 1999.

...a thousand lines ago, dammit. Why does this software cut me off?

-- Anthony V. Toscano (, November 14, 1999.

Story first. Oh, I love fabulist stylists, like R.A. Lafferty and Robertson Davies and Cordwainer Smith. But story is always paramount. It has to be, for me. Anyway, I always go for the story first.....even from lousy stylists, like Asimov and Tolkien....and stick with them longer

Al from Nova Notes.

PS. That may be why I'm the world's worst poetry....I appreciate fine words, but it's not paramount.

-- Al Schroeder (, November 14, 1999.

I will go for either.
It has to be captivating content or captivating style.
One prefers the best of both, of course, but an abundance of either makes the other forgivable.

I think I may tend most toward the combination of strong characters and elegant words in fiction and toward the combination of dry wit and impeccable (at least to the limits of my awareness) accuracy in non-fiction. [Nothing turns me off a work of non-fiction faster thanmistakes so glaring that *I* pick them up.] I have yet to read a memoir/autobiography that I didn't enjoy at least somewhat, though few are as compelling as SOME people I could mention. (Hi, kids!)

I look for honesty in writing, and for a voice I would enjoy across a cafe table.

-- Marianne Aldrich (, November 14, 1999.

I used to fish just for stories as a child . I started to read in a foreign language as soon as I could understand 6 words from 10 written - that was enough to get the story... And I never complained over bad translations either... as only way I could feel dissatisfied would be if the story itself got lost during the transport from one language into another....

Yet I loved words even then, I just was not ready to express that love... And with years passing, as more and more stories got stored into my mind, so that my story-hunger was usually sated, I started to crave for words as the main meal... Even up to the point where I may consider a story superfluous - like in case of the book by Arundhati Roy. I enjoyed the style, the way the impressions made sense, how capital letters were used to stress some points... and the story only hindered my pleasure from words.

When writing myself, especially in English, I like to use the words as some safety-valve to cool down over-heated emotions. My big hero is James Joyce. I would sell my soul if that could make me able to write something like his "Portrait of the Artist" !

Yet I did not enjoy reading the book. "Portrait of the Artist" is something I would not read for pleasure, but I suerly would love to write like Joyce !

-- Aet Tunissoo (, November 15, 1999.

The words. The story. The two are so tightly braided together that if you start to pull them apart, the sentences will bleed. Can you really separate the notes from the melodies they create?

I adore writers who create music with their words (Angela Carter, Jeanette Winterson et al) and I breathe in stunned awe at those writers who let stories run rings around me. And some do it with effortless ease, in stripped down phrases where each carefully trimmed word carries more than its own weight. (And now I can't remember the name of the author whose work stunned me recently: where there was not a spare ounce of decoration, not a grace note in sight, but the stories and characters sang so pure and true.)

There are times, when reading, that I have become so frustrated, struggling to unpick the words (What is going on? What is happening? Tell me straight!) of something like, say, Finnegans Wake, but reading it aloud lulls the pedantic sub-editor on the shoulder to sleep. Lullabyes of poetic beauty.

Strange, because it's rare that I can read poetry for long. My mind drifts. Unless it's narrative poetry. (I first read 'Paradise Lost' like a novel.) I crave stories. Simple, complex, magical: I don't mind. As long as they taste right. As long as the voice and the tale curl close together.

Sometimes, when writing, I try to think of my words as a spoken performance, not a piece of text. I try to find the rhythms of a cafe conversation, a whispered phonecall, or a long sigh in a dark room. Sometimes, I forget all about it. The story won't let me mess with its structure. Sometimes it works better than others.

Maybe, because I read so much, I can pick and choose. Take a strand of musical beauty from one writer, and let it echo in my skull as I read something stripped down and matter-of-fact.
p.s. Catherine, I am overwhelmed by your comments. So, in your honour, I offer a rare appearance of capital letters.

-- heyoka (, November 15, 1999.

I like a writer who can really pull me into their world.

When I write, I first throw the mess up on the screen(information), and then try to wrestle them into something flowing, that leads from point A to point B. Sometimes I don't know if I accomplish that. I stare at it, say for instance, my entry about National Identity that was inspired by a question you asked. Well, it goes from A to B, with how many side meanders. It had been worse. I chopped a bunch of ramble off the end which only distracted from the main point. Sometimes it's good, and sometimes it's nyah.

-- Joan Lansberry (, November 17, 1999.

BAD URL...sorry...Try this.
-- Joan Lansberry (, November 17, 1999.

So the piece on National Identity, I'm not so sure. But every one in a while, something pleases me. Yesterday's entry started off quiet. I was moved to take a picture of the wall in front of my sewing machine, with its various photographs and memorabilia. Then I realized I'd scanned most of those items and large size versions were up on the web, so I gave links to those. Early in the day, the title was "Facing The Wall".

Off to surfing, I saw Rick McGinnis' (sp?) collection of his father's letters while he was in the military. The scan of his writing impressed me. Was one tear-stained? I could almost touch it.

What if I find samples of MY parents'writings?, a little voice asked? I left the computer idle, and went digging. I only turned up two samples, but I scanned them, and put them with the respective person's portrait.

A vague satisfaction lasted for a bit. It was mostly a visual entry. Then it occurred to me I could do something with the TEXT to make it all hold together as a unit.

What I like about it is how it evolved through out the day.

Real writing often involves such an evolution, unseen perhaps to the reader, but known to the writer.

-- Joan Lansberry (, November 21, 1999.

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