0079 – back, business, writing skills

On the way home now. I was going to start with “back!”, because it feels like I abruptly ended the last vomit with some vague, unsubstantiated claims and unfinished thoughts. This is going to keep happening for a long, long time and it might be a permanent state of affairs within the framework and limitations of my present imagination. Bunch of thoughts.

1: I have a habit of writing and thinking in a double-barrelled fashion. What do I mean? There, I just did it- writing AND thinking. It’s just the way I’ve rolled so far. It’s like a tic. I chunk multiple things together in parallel. Sometimes it’s elucidatory. But it’s also a convenient way to weasel out of being precise. It also allows me to feel (and sound) like I’m covering a larger area. (I jist did that again, but this time it was semi-deliberate.) I think there are appropriate contexts (I would’ve otherwise said time and spaces) to utilize such devices effectively. The challenge is to use them purposefully. Writing for ReferralCandy is forcing me to be more ruthless in my writing. There’s less room for wide strokes when you’re writing about things that are more technical. It’s an interesting challenge.

2: I was reading a lot of Paul Graham recently and I’m won over by the idea of using extensive footnotes. David Foster Wallace used them too, and while I haven’t really dived into his work properly, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. (My first introduction to him was when I submitted my blog to a “see who you write like” bot. Cheesy but it was the arbitrary connection that just stuck in my head.)

I love making digressions. I almost can’t help it- I hate the idea of not sharing all these auxillary details. Aren’t we impoverished when denied context? This informs my writing style to a dramatic degrre- which is why I use so many commas, em dashes, parentheses, fragments. I write like I talk like I think- very messily. More fox than hedgehog, clearly.

That said, I am well aware of both the weaknesses and limitations of such thought. (Here is me making mistake 1 again- is it necessary to distinguish between weaknesses and limitations in situation? Is it purposeful? Not really. It’s a tic.) The problem with constant digression is that it weakens the forcefulness of a single, well-placed point. The clutter serves to distract rather then inform.

So I really like the idea of footnotes, because it means you can get the expanded context later. You don’t need to know the ultra-specific details now, you can get the gist of the story first. Beautiful.

3: I’m experimenting with chunking up my thoughts in numbered bullet points. This is very context-dependent of course. I think it’s useful in something like these word vomits, which are highly unstructured. I think it will help me on retrospect if and when I want to condense older posts into succinct blurbs.
All of these are simply ruminations upon the same fundamental idea, that style evolves to suit context- like how city birds develop shorter, more rap-like songs as opposed to the longer country melodies of birds in the countryside. (Same for humans, and it seems, same for anything that communicates.)

4: I ended abruptly while exploring the idea of entrepreneurship as the best way to contribute to humanity. Of course this is a highly subjective claim so I’ll have to add all kinds of conditional statements. I always like to begin with the history of a term or an idea: So entrepreneur comes from the word enterprise and has to do with a French term for undertaking.

I like to think of it as construction. A business is built. You put together a structure that creates value, creates wealth. There are lots of ways to create wealth. The challenge is to create lasting wealth that can be reused, replicated, shared, propogated, built upon. Good books and websites can contribute to this in the realm of ideas, but nothing is quite as significant or impactful as business.

Stealing this one wholesale from ribbonfarm.com and mixing in some vague ideas from pop biology… in a sense a lot of life is about exchange and transactions- subatomic, chemical, genetic… and commerce is a part of that too, a living process. Transactions and exchange at an epic scale. Remixing physical commodities, development, differentiation. Man I really need to read and think more, this is all so vague. The hypothesis is that businesses influence reality more than most other things because they have power, influence, resources. There are also cultural things to consider. (God, this is so terribly vague and obtuse. I’m partially tired and sleepy, and I’m partially incompetent at talking about these things.)

Refresh: There are many ways to make a mark in the world, which we’ll assume is a natural biological (or more deep rooted) impulse for at last some of us. Just saw this on Twitter: Why write? George Orwell: “Political purpose… push the world in a direction, alter peoples’ idea of the society they should strive after.”

I’m now approaching a question that I had started with when talking to my colleagues over drinks once- how do you decide what you ought to do if you feel like you’re flexible enough to try a whole bunch of stuff? I’m pretty sure I’d get bored of doing any one thing for too long. Writing might always have to be auxillary, at least most of the time. It’s important to have things to write about. I think my wife’s a great writer even though she hasn’t really written very much yet because she has this almost innate ability to pick the most beautiful points, targets, things to focus on. That’s the hardest part of training to be a writer or an artist, I think. Picking the right dots to connect. Connecting a set of dots is fairly trivial once you’ve got them, and it can be broken down into a science. But choosing the right dots? That’s almost magical- though surely that can be developed, too. You have to have taste. You get great points via negativa- you develop taste and that taste eliminates the lousy and weak points before they even really enter your consciousness.

Feel like I’m losing flow with this one. Will get off the vomit and focus on tidying up my bookmarks further.

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