RE: Who dreams up these things?

Subject: RE: Who dreams up these things?
From: sinico -at- nbnet -dot- nb -dot- ca (H.Durstling)
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 1999 18:16:13 -0300



Andrew:

A thousand thanks for that breath of fresh air. Or blast.

There's a poem by Charles Bukowski the last line of which goes "for a guy
who couldn't write worth beans he sure knew how to talk about it." As you
point out, somewhere along the line you've got to take the risk of actually
saying something. It seems to me that risk and the (illusory) reduction
thereof lie at the pyschological root of this whole going-by-the-book
process syndrome. No-one carries an umbrella unless he expects rain and
no-one seeks disproportionate risk reduction unless he's disproportionately
unconfident. The rest flows from there. Note that I say disproportionate.

For what it's worth I'll throw in my 2 cent assessment of what makes a good
explainer.

1. Intelligence, i.e. the ability to learn. You can't explain to others
what you don't understand yourself.

2. Curiosity, i.e. the disposition to learn. If you yourself liked the
learning your enjoyment of it gets transmitted to the reader when you
explain it to him in turn.

3. Experience. Writing is probably one of the few fields in which a
kaleidescopic resume full of bumps and turbulence is worth more than any
straight line career path. Having done everything, seen everything, met
every kind of person from bishop to reprobate to Illustrissimo Dottore to
sheet metal worker makes you that much more able to talk to your reader who
could be any of these.

4. Humility. Not quite the right word, perhaps empathy or detachment might
be better. What I mean is you need to be able to ask yourself "does this
make sense to someone who's never done it before?" Answering that question
requires the ability to mentally put yourself in that person's place and
read what you've just written as it were through his outside eyes.

5. A good visual eye. That ties in with number 4 to a degree in that you
want to be able to ask and answer the question "Am I cluttering this up
unnecessarily?"

6.Typing is usually helpful.

Ecclesiastes 10:19,
Hans Durstling <sinico -at- nbnet -dot- nb -dot- ca>
Moncton, Canada

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