writing

Rohin Kushwaha On The Writer’s Craft

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/01/2019 - 10:26am in

A few days ago, I made note of the passing of my young nephew, Rohin Kushwaha, at the age of nineteen, mourning the tragic loss of a brilliant, young, and talented man to the ravages of a relentless disease. In that remembrance, I made note of Rohin’s writing talents:

His intellectual ambition was vast, speaking of a vision and a scale not normally associated with one so young: he studied computer science and dreamed about writing a different kind of video game, complex, based on rich narratives with complicated characters; he would bring his own novels and stories to life with the games he wrote. He had completed work on one novel and had begun work on another; he was talented and prolific and organized and hard-working, the perfect artist.

Today, I can say something more substantive about Rohin’s writerly talent and ambition by sharing a powerful piece of writing he wrote in response to a fellowship application prompt. I include it here on this blog, in this public space, because it contains lessons that all creators of any stripe, writers, and artists alike, would do well to learn, a wisdom it took me over three decades to realize (albeit only partially). What is striking about the writing below is not just that it is written by a 18-year old, or that it is describing the writing of a novel at that age, but that the articulation of the necessary labors of the writer that it contains–write regularly; do not wait for inspiration to strike; the muse only visits while you work; revise, revise, revise, for a work of writing is never complete, never ‘done’–are among the deepest of the writer’s craft. It is succinct; it is to the point. Some of Rohin’s friends referred to him as an ‘old soul,’ wise beyond his years. This piece of writing shows why. Every writer, creator, or artist could take this little piece of writing, print it out, stick it on their desk, and get to work. I know I will.

Thanks for writing this Rohin. I hope others read this and are inspired to write, and create, to bring their works to completion. You’ve passed on, but your words will live on and inspire others. With all my love, Samir Chacha.

Here is the prompt:

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Here is Rohin’s response:

Ever since I was 10 years old I told myself I could do it. But there was a part of me that also knew I couldn’t. Or wouldn’t rather. As far back as I could remember I always wanted to tell stories. Stories like the ones I saw in movies and read in books. Stories that made people feel something as they experienced it. I wasn’t sure if this passion of mine would fade with time. I wasn’t sure if it was a passion at all. But when your mind is so packed with character arcs, plot twists, and dramatic moments that it’s about to burst, you have to let it out somehow. So I did. The summer I turned 16 I decided to sit down and write a book. And I told myself it was going to be good.

Before I even typed the first word I thought I had the whole thing figured out. I thought I knew every detail of my story, chapter to chapter. But as I wrote I began to realize I only knew three things about my story: the beginning, the middle, and the end. The question I kept having to ask myself is “what happens next?”. This is the question that made me stop writing immediately after the first chapter, a mere 577 words.

The next day I sat at my computer and stared at the next blank page, hopeless. I didn’t write a single word that day because I was afraid that what I decided to happen next would be the wrong thing to happen next. I was afraid of telling a bad story. I shrugged it off each day, telling myself I wasn’t “inspired” or “in the mood”.

It must have been a week until I realized the “trick” to completing my story, the “trick” to writing. Even if you’re not inspired or not in the mood. Write anyway. Even if you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Write anyway. Even if the sentences you make are bad sentences. Write anyway. So I did. 1,000 words a day. That’s what I told myself. Some days that would take an hour, others it would take 3. But I never went to bed until those 1,000 words a day were complete.

And just like that my story began to be told. I found my characters writing themselves, speaking and acting as they would if they were real people. I found motivations and plot points aligning, finally making sense in the bigger picture. And I found myself enjoying every moment, every struggle and every little victory of writing my story. There were even some days I found myself writing over 1,000 words without even realizing it.

In two months time I was done. I was actually, finally done. 65,000 words, 65,000 of my own words. So I decided to put the story down for a month. Come back with a pair of fresh eyes and impress myself all over again with what I had done.

But what I had found when I came back was that my novel had changed from science fiction to horror. I read each sentence, each chapter in dread. I was amazed at how little so much of it made sense. After finally coming to terms with it, I realized that I was far from done. I had barely even started.

So I tore each chapter to pieces. I rewrote, rewrote, and then rewrote some more. And here I am a year later. Is my story perfect? Not even close. It is ten times better than it was last year? Improvement is relative, so I’ll at least give myself that one. But this story will forever be the thing I am most proud of. Because when I sat down every day, even when I knew it wasn’t perfect, I wrote 1,000 more words.

“Even if you’re not inspired or not in the mood. Write anyway. Even if you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Write anyway. Even if the sentences you make are bad sentences. Write anyway.”

Penguins

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 20/01/2019 - 8:02pm in

They were sighted off the south-east coast,
drifting in towards the port;
their boat, a snapped-off block of ice,
melting slowly in the warmth.
 
By the docks, a crowd had formed itself;
mob-angry, it looked on.
Placards were thrust. A chant began:
GO BACK TO WHERE YOU’RE FROM.
 
‘They’re just economic migrants,’
declared a spokesman for the right.
‘They’ve come to rob us of our jobs.
It’s as clear as black and white.’
 
‘Tragic,’ said the Home Secretary,
mock-sadness suppressed his smirk.
‘We’d let them stay but here’s the rub –
they have no paperwork.’
 
‘They’ll undermine Our Way of Life!’
The warnings raged on Twitter.
‘They stink of fish.’ ‘They’ll rape your wife.’
‘There’s bombs beneath those flippers.’
 
‘PENGUIN CLAIMS “MY HOME IS MELTING!”’
The Sun printed in disgust.
‘But whose fault is THAT – except THEIR OWN?
What’s that to do with US?’
 
The last of the ice had disappeared.
The penguins battled through the foam,
swimming, swimming,
from land to land,
searching for a home.

How To Write A Philosophy Paper: Online Guides

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/01/2019 - 1:23am in

Some philosophy professors, realizing that many of their students are unfamiliar with writing philosophy papers, provide them with “how-to” guides to the task.

I thought it might be useful to collect examples of these. If you know of any already online, please mention them in the comments and include links. If you have a PDF of one that isn’t online that you’d like to share, you can email it to me and I can put in online and add it to the list below.

Guidelines for Students on Writing Philosophy Papers


Jasenko Đorđević, “Creation of Adam” (pencil carving)

 

The post How To Write A Philosophy Paper: Online Guides appeared first on Daily Nous.

Virtual Dissertation Writing Groups

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/01/2019 - 5:07am in

Once again, Joshua Smart (Ohio State) is organizing virtual dissertation writing groups for philosophy Ph.D. students.

He writes:

Virtual Dissertation Groups (VDG) is a free service that connects graduate students to provide feedback on dissertation work. Members are grouped with two others working in the same general area of philosophy. About once a month, one member sends some work (3-6K words) to the others, who return feedback and comments in a week or so.

While advisors and committees are important, it can be incredibly helpful to discuss one’s work with peers in a lower-stakes environment, and it can be particularly enlightening to do so with those who take a different approach, outlook, or focus. Not only that, but there is evidence from psychological research that thinking about problems in relation to persons who are geographically distant can increase creativity. With students in programs from many states, countries, and every continent with a philosophy Ph.D. program, Virtual Dissertation Groups is a great way to capture some of these benefits!

You can sign up to participate here. Open signups through Sunday, January 20th. (Afterwards, new dissertators are accepted conditional on available spots.)

The post Virtual Dissertation Writing Groups appeared first on Daily Nous.

Neal Katyal And George Conway’s Incomplete Legal Advice

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/11/2018 - 1:41am in

In an Op-Ed for the New York Times, Neal Katyal, the “acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama and…a lawyer at Hogan Lovells,” and George Conway III, “a litigator at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz,” argue that Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as the the Acting Attorney General is unconstitutional. Roughly, according to the Appointments Clause of the US Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, “principal officers of the United States must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its “Advice and Consent” powers.” Whitaker is a principal officer, and he has not been confirmed by the Senate.  So, “Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States…is unconstitutional. It’s illegal.”

(Katyal and Conway buttress this argument by invoking the words of Justice Clarence Thomas, who argued last year that the appointment of the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board without Senate confirmation, which was ruled invalid on statutory grounds, was unconstitutional for precisely the same reason – it violated the Appointments Clause.)

Katyal and Conway sign off with a rhetorical flourish that should be familiar to anyone who has read claims alleging the unconstitutionality of a statute or executive action:

[T]he Constitution is a bipartisan document, written for the ages to guard against wrongdoing by officials of any party. Mr. Whitaker’s installation makes a mockery of our Constitution and our founders’ ideals. As Justice Thomas’s opinion in the N.L.R.B. case reminds us, the Constitution’s framers “had lived under a form of government that permitted arbitrary governmental acts to go unchecked.” He added “they knew that liberty could be preserved only by ensuring that the powers of government would never be consolidated in one body.”

We must heed those words today.

Stirring words. Exemplary legal analysis. Alas, something is missing. How can we “heed those words”? What legal redress do American citizens have? Can I call a police officer and ask him to arrest the President? Who will step forward to address this violation of the  law? Illegal acts have been committed; what can be done? Katyal and Conway do not bother to tell us. They tell us that something is is illegal and then they drop the mic.  Unconstitutionality Alleged! Boom!

What Katyal and Conway have failed to do is tell us who has standing to sue.  Standing is “the term for the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged to support that party’s participation in the case” or “the requirement that a person who brings a suit be a proper party to request adjudication of the particular issue involved.”

So, who, if anyone, has standing to sue in this case? I am not a lawyer or a legal expert. I do not know what the rules are for standing to sue alleging constitutional violations. Mea culpa – my civics lesson were clearly inadequate. It would be nice if a pair of expert lawyers, who enjoy access to one of the the nation’s most visible media platforms, would tell me.

This complaint is a more general one. In the years since Donald Trump has become president, a veritable blizzard of op-eds have descended upon us, alleging some kind of illegal behavior by the administration. (Most of these are admittedly allegations that some norms, rather than laws, have been violated.) In almost none of those is the reader informed of how the citizens of this nation can find legal remedies. An opportunity for a little civics lesson, a little legal education, is missed out in each case. And the impression that citizens have, that the laws of this nation simply do not check the actions of the powerful, is reinforced. From a political standpoint, polemics are of little use if they do not include some call to action: here is the legal violation, this is what must be done to redress it. Elementary rules of composition for political or legal writing, I think.

As things stand, Whittaker is Acting Attorney General. And for all we can tell, no one can do anything about it. If that is the case, it would be nice to know why.

Nothing is Pure. Everything is Complicated.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/04/2018 - 7:40pm in

People have a strange vision of me. I’m going to set a few things straight real quick.

I was an anarchist pacifist two years ago, I was an anarchist pacifist two months ago, I’m an anarchist pacifist right now, and I probably will be one until I go to my grave. I didn’t get fired for what I believe or what I’ve done, because none of that ever really came up. I got fired because of the language I used when I was working with Anonymous in 2011-12, and because I believe in engaging with racists instead of shunning them. On a personal level, my friends can tell you, it’s not just racism. I’m not an easy friend. I confront a lot of difficult topics head on, and I can be in turns comforting and challenging. If I am worried you are going to far with drugs or alcohol, I will tell you. If I think your relationship is fucked up, you’ll understand why I think that. If I think the road you are going down leads to dark ruin, a wasted life, and only makes the people who ruined you more powerful, well, weev, you know that’s what I think.

I don’t give up on people. I have in the past. I told my dad he was a failure as a father in a mall in Northern California, and the next time I saw him, I was identifying his body. I told Aaron we needed to be apart, and when I could have warned people that he would try to kill himself I was 6000 miles away. I have lost so many people, and I will lose more, but it will never again be because I didn’t try. And that’s true of this whole damn world. We may lose it, but not because I didn’t try.

I am not a conservative. Conservatism in an age of calamities can only be about death, and I have had enough of death. I’m not a proper lefty. The left as I know it doesn’t afford enough agency to people who came up hard. To my mind, “everything is systemic, nothing is personal” is as bankrupt as “everything is personal, nothing is systemic.” Everything is both, all the damn time. You have to live with that, you have to live with no easy answers. I am much more persuaded by lefists who work their politics in the street, taking care of people in need, like trying to shut down prisons, instead of cheering when the bad guys get put in them. I am more persuaded by conservatives who practice hospitality and Christian charity towards all, including people who aren’t like them, because that’s what hospitality and Christian charity means.

The public made me into a boogyman, and then people cheered when the Times accidentally mugged my career. I didn’t apologize for that, and I’m not going to apologize for doing what I believe is right and effective. But none of that had anything to do with what I was hired for by the Times. All I was going to do there is explain to the world how the internet works, and how it works on humans. It’s not a complicated mission, but one the world needs, and one I can do. So I’m going to keep working on it. I’m also going to keep opposing racism, sexism, hatred, the wars declared and undeclared, all the dehumanizing bullshit I see from the entire political spectrum. I’m going to keep loving the people the gods put in my path. I’m going to keep loving humanity and our pearl of a planet until they lay me in its belly. I don’t think I’m ever going to be persuaded that the nation-state is very good for us, or at least, I think we can do better.

I believe in the humanity of all humans, which seems ridiculous to have to say, but all across the political spectrum, so many of you don’t. I’m sorry you didn’t find an easy world at the beginning of the 21st century, but you didn’t. Nothing is pure. Everything is complicated.

And I think that’s why people hate me: because I don’t fit, I am full of impurity and complication, and my story doesn’t let you ignore that in me, or the world. I am never going to be easy to label, and I’m always going to make people uncomfortable. And many people would rather bleed than be uncomfortable. I will love you, and I will not be cool about it. I will never, ever, ever settle for your unjust and hateful world.

If you do want to know what I think about racism, here’s a few pieces from the last nine years. There’s be more, but this isn’t what I’m payed to write about. I’m a technology writer, and it’s rare I get paid to write anything else. So most of this was written for love, not money.

Living Without Shame is a Political Act

We Have to Build the Future Out of the Past

Looking back to Obama’s night

White Privilege: Updating the invisible Knapsack

Count

https://medium.com/@quinnnorton/the-problem-with-white-shunning-56b67cc2d726

https://medium.com/@quinnnorton/black-men-please-play-pokemon-go-c99a61a05aa5

https://medium.com/message/looking-past-our-racist-assumptions-to-see-africa-f5bddab648ea

https://medium.com/message/how-white-people-got-made-6eeb076ade42

https://medium.com/message/whiteness-3ead03700322

https://medium.com/message/while-you-are-all-briefly-worried-about-black-men-getting-shot-by-police-800843a478af

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