Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2017 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was "Time". The posts are of a more philosophical, contemplative, and even autobiographical bent. No time management tips in this theme, but stuff intended to make you think.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Don't Tax My Brain! (#IWSG)

       Reading should flow naturally like a river without impediments or a road free of obstacles blocking progress.   That is unless the writing is scholarly or intentionally pedantic in which case if I'm reading for fun or pleasure I ain't going to be reading that crap...




Cartoon about a priest reading an adult magazine.
Cartoon about a priest reading an adult magazine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Insecure Writer's Suppport Group

Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog


The co-hosts for the August 2 posting of the IWSG are Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!


August 3 Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?



         Keep things clear is what I'd advise the modern writer--at least if they're trying to reach the typical reader.   Perhaps the argument could be made that we've become stupider--or simpler--as readers and I think this is true to a great extent.  Readers now are used to texts, emails, and People magazine.  They often prefer something they can whiz through.  The typical reader avoids flowery Victorian novels or deep tomes like what might be found as recommended or required for college classes.  

         That's me.   If I'm going to read for entertainment then I want things relatively simple and unencumbered by long complex sentences and paragraphs that go on for pages.  I find it rather annoying to be reading and reading and then forget what the heck I was reading in the first place to the point that I have to go back and reread what I had supposedly been reading but apparently wasn't. 

         A good many of us have developed comic book/TV sitcom brains.  We often lack focus due to distractions all around us and the wiring within our brains that tends to sidetrack our thinking.  Maybe you do better than I when it comes to reading writing with complex presentation, but that's what my reading peeve is.  My writing reflects this reading bias.  I want to read in the same way that my mind works.  Well, maybe sans some of the discombobulation, but to the point with simplicity.

        Sure, I'll read some tough stuff now and then as long as I can intersperse plenty of simple reading in the mix.  If a writer seems to be trying to impress with unnecessarily big or obscure words or complex rambling writing then they might lose me.   Reading for fun should be fun and reading for information should be clear and concise.

        That's my peeve at least.   Others might disagree in which case they can read those books, stories, or articles that I don't read.  If I were a better reader then maybe I wouldn't feel this way.  I don't think I'm alone in this judging from the kinds of books that seem to be most popular.  On the other hand I might have just now expressed a falsity since I don't read all that much.  

         Which brings me to another peeve.  Guess I'll save that one for another time.

         How often do you read deep complex books?  Do you write in the style of most of what you read?    In school, did you read all the required reading or did you tend to look for alternatives like Cliff notes or movie versions?






         





57 comments:

  1. Becoming stupider? As Ripley said in Aliens, Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away? Yeah, they did.
    I can appreciate a complex movie and sometimes a complex book, but I tend to like my reading a little easier.

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    1. Alex, stupidity is a huge problem in our time. A lot of people fall for a lot of dumb stuff. I can get so distracted while reading and having to look up words or figure out what a writer is saying doesn't help.

      Lee

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  2. I hate editing.....I still find mistakes after I thought I'd finished.
    Enjoy August.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, one can probably find mistakes or wording they don't like for as long as one is doing editing.

      Lee

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  3. I have a hard time reading books where I can't understand/pronounce the names they've given the characters. Russian literature comes to mind. It's too boring.

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    1. JoJo, if the writing flows well then I can absorb the thoughts rather than dwell on them too long.

      Lee

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    2. We also did the same with Non-fiction ... find a term or reference that we do not know about ... so a bit more research (till we have an understanding of it) then back to the research.. A Lot of "unpronounceable words" in some of our studies... Just trying to amass knowledge on the subject...
      Have a pleasant week, good JoJo...

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  4. It varies with me. In order for me to write on a regular basis, I have to be doing something interesting with the style. My attention span is much too short to just sit down and write in the way things pop into my mind.

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    1. Harry, I think many of us in the modern age are afflicted with short attention spans. Writing might help us focus more, but a wandering mind can be as much of a bane as a blessing.

      Lee

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  5. I do enjoy light reading but I do tend to skip ahead when the mood strikes. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Anna, I rarely skip ahead--I'm not sure I've ever done that. I'm too fixated on reading every word I guess.

      Lee

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  6. Cliff notes - that brings me back to what feels like a lifetime ago. :)

    I prefer an easy read. I think that's because of what I do for a living. I deal with court documents and that jargon can fry my brain.

    Enjoy the rest of your week!
    Elsie

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    1. Elsie, legalese is the worst. I get so bogged down and confused when I read a legal document, but I think that's part of their intent.

      Lee

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  7. Simpler is better. I do read more complicated things now and then, but I don't often enjoy them.

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    1. Chrys, at least simpler seems better though sometimes we'd never know that. If I can get into the rhythm of the writing then I can read complex writing and actually enjoy it. Then there are cases where writing seems much more complex than it really is.

      Lee

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  8. We don't publish the complicated, deep stuff. We publish what sells, the lighter, simpler stories. People relate to those.

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    1. L.Diane, selling books is a business so it's important to publish what will actually sell unless you're more interested in reaching a more niched academic market. That's what university presses are for.

      Lee

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  9. My choice of reading material swings from heavy non-fiction to light reading escapes. fond of fiction that is too light. I don't mind and, in fact, love, when I have to Google a word or three while reading. Life is about learning and exercising the mind. Even the lightest reading can and should introduce a couple of new words to one's vocabulary.

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    1. Toni, I certainly don't mind learning new words if they are functional. My biggest problem is convoluted sentences and paragraphs that are lacking in clarity or providing totally unnecessary information. I probably am inclined to reading more "heavy" stuff than light and I read more nonfiction than fiction.

      Lee

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  10. Fact finding and Research is what we Always read when we were younger (occasionally a bit of Fiction) ... and after all those many years of research ... it will All die with me... oh well...
    Have a pleasant day good Sir Arlee... and Hello from Marshville...

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    1. Stacey, I'm a fan of facts and research and these days that is what most of my reading is. But, sadly, yes, much of that dies with us unless we've managed to somehow record it for posterity's sake.

      Lee

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  11. I don't think I read much of the required reading in high school. I read enough to get a sense of what was going on, listened in class, and was able to BS my way through well enough that I got OK grades. I believe that the reason we read the books we did in school was because our teachers did, and if they had to suffer through them, so did we. Seriously, I can understand reading Shakespeare, but a play doesn't make sense until you see it performed and hear the actors recite the lines. See the play, THEN read it.

    I lose my interest really quickly when faced with a brick wall of prose. I hopw I've gotten out of the habit of writing that way. In general, blogging has made me learn to keep the number of words to a minimum. I've been reading Scott Adams's latest book, and he said that in cartooning the idea is to remove as many words as you can while still getting the joke across. That's blogging, too.

    I don't read a lot of fiction. Most of the things I read are humor, which is by its nature lighter and uses shorter sentences, and memoir, which, while not always light reading, tends to keep it brief. I have been fighting my way through Marshall McLuhan's book on television, but I have to really be in the mood to read that.

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    1. John, you and I were very much alike in the way you describe high school and I continued on in a similar vein in college. I read a lot including outside reading, but for some books encyclopedia summaries mostly got me through the reading part of the ones that didn't interest me.

      I prefer to the point reading and if the text rambles too much then my mind wanders. Blogging is essentially like the terse reporting of most newspaper stories and I like that style.

      Lee

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  12. Interesting. I don't like things that are hard to read, because of complex sentences or obscure words. But I do like big stories where a lot of different parts come together to fit something grand. I like complex stories with subtle hints that I can puzzle out on my own for the big "AH-HA! I see how that works together" moment. But I do feel it's best told simply.

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    1. Loni, I agree about the stories with complex plots that all come together in the end. Putting together with clarity one of those big stories takes some exceptional writing skill.

      Lee

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  13. As a kid I quite enjoyed the challenge of big new words, learning what they meant. Nowadays I hear far too many newly invented words that hardly do justice to the ones already in use to convey the same thing. Uh oh, does that sound peevish?

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    1. Diedre, not peevish at all--some writers try to be overly clever I think and faddish writing I think will have a negative affect on readers of the future. I've always liked discovering and applying interesting new words in my own writing, but there needs to be a point to my doing so.

      Lee

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  14. Never ever used Cliff Notes, read all the books and even underlined and highlighted. Loved new vocabulary, and then using them in my work.

    We live in a Sesame Street world, where people think from scene to scene with commercials in between. This really impacts writing.

    I used to read complex books until migraines affected my ability to concentrate and even focus on words. Miss those books.

    Contemporary books and writing really discourage me. settings are blank, with no imagery. Sentences are choppy and boring. Conversations hang out by themselves, like laundry on a line.

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    1. Susan, actually I was too cheap to pay for Cliff Notes though my mom had bought a cheap encyclopedia set that had summaries of many major literary works and I did use those on occasion. However, I did prefer actually read as many books as I could. I too enjoyed building my vocabulary--reading the dictionary and making lists of words I liked is something that I used to do.

      Yes, in modern society, many of us have had our worlds reduced to sound bytes and mod speak. I'm not sure how much of this will be lasting like the great literary works of the past.

      Lee

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  15. I love to read and I liked reading this

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    1. Jo-Anne, hope you'll continue to be a reader of my blog.

      Lee

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  16. Hi Lee,
    I think you're definitely onto something here. I believe you nailed it when you point out that we are a society that is so used to quick communications via emails and tweets and internet news. We're a fast-moving society now and the days of lounging around reading a thousand-page book are but a memory. I like easy reads. If it's too long, I can't get into it. I have entirely too many distractions to devote a big block of time, especially with regard to pleasure reading.

    I'm very drawn to crime novels and mysteries/thrillers. One reason that I'm especially fond of James Patterson is his story pacing is quick and short. His chapters are typically just a few pages, sometimes less than that! I find that I can move along faster if the story is laid out in a quick-read style.

    I love Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series: I've made it through the first book in the series because we were reading it for our book club. I loved it! BUT her books are HUGE! If you see them on the shelf in a bookstore, they'll be the thickest books on the shelf. The first in the 8-book series was 640 pages. The one following it was 752 pages. HUGE!! It's a big commitment to get into one of her books. I will say though, that it's definitely time well spent. Her writing is brilliant and the stories compelling and her research impeccable (her genre is historical romance -- don't get thrown by the "romance" catagorization: I wasn't thrilled when the title was chosen for book club as I thought it would be like a trashy Harlequin romance or something. Far from it. Very far from it). I highly recommend 'Outlander" if you want to get a valid glimpse into history and at the same time revel in some time-travel fantasy. Here's a link to Diana Gabaldon's wikipedia page which also includes her series:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_Gabaldon

    James Michener's lengthy saga books are like that too. I read his 1971 book "The Drifters", which was absolutely fantastic and I wanted to explore more of his works but the length of the books always turned me off. (The Drifters wasn't near as long as his other books, like Alaska, Hawaii or Texas...) I hear his other works are awesome too, but can I really devote a year to a book (yes, it would probably take me that long to read one of his books these days). Here's a link to his wikipedia page and a list of his books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A._Michener

    So yeah, I'm all about quick and easy: in reading and in cooking... :)

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, long books are okay with me if they are relatively rapid reading or so compelling that I must continue reading until the end. I'm especially fond of short chapters or text that is broken up with easy stopping places.

      Lee

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    2. Do you like James Patterson novels Lee? His books are so well laid out: perfect for folks like you and me.

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    3. Don't think I've read any James Patterson, but I'm sure I've read similar stuff. I haven't been reading fiction lately.

      Lee

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  17. I seem to go in genre spurts. I've burned myself out on fantasy for awhile and WWII books (both fiction and non). At the moment I'm getting ready to read "The Mercy of the Sky: The Story of a Tornado" by Holly Bailey about the tornado that pert near wiped out Moore, Oklahoma in 2013. Sometimes I just need to insert a big slice of RL into my reading. And yes, I was one of those kids that read everything in school I was told to. Then some!

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    1. CA, I will sometimes go into a genre fixation, but usually I'll read back and forth between different types of non-fiction with an occasional fiction thrown in for change.

      Lee

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  18. Lee,

    I got a poor start in life where reading goes. I was a slow reader in part due to poor hearing. Of course, I didn't know that at the time and thinking back on it this could've caused my insecurities and low-esteem issues plus a nasty first grade teacher who degraded the slower readers in the room. Shame on her! Anyway, I never developed a deep passion for literature. I read just enough to get by in school. My best friend often shared her extensive library with me a kid which I did enjoy reading from on occasion. I did some reading for pleasure through my college and early years prior to parenthood but after that my brain was too distracted for anything longer than magazine article. Heck, forget that...a product label. Things have improved somewhat since the kids grew up and moved out but still my relaxed brain is programmed to reading easy material. I'm like you, I don't want to have to re-read something to get the point the author is making or too technical that it blows right over me. I try to write like speak or at least I'm trying to do that more instead of being someone I'm really not. I think this is actually good because I know I connect better with others who adapt the same style. I feel like I'm sitting in the room with them. This is one reason why I like your posts. They aren't pretentious but warm, inviting, making me want to stay around to finish. :)

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    1. Cathy, your comment was very encouraging to me--thank you! I've always been a slow--or easily distracted reader. It can take me many days to finish a book that should have been read in a few.

      Lee

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  19. I read most genres of fiction and a lot of non-fiction as well. These days, with so many really good books to read, I give 'em ten pages to catch my attention. I try to keep that in mind when I'm writing. :D

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    1. Patricia, writing what one wants to read is an excellent guide to use.

      Lee

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  20. Attention spans are definitely getting shorter - I take time in my reading in only what truly appeals to me and stretches me a little.

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    1. Susan S, so much of our information comes in small doses that we often tend to think that way and want our reading delivered with the same brevity. In my opinion reading is best when it is savored and contemplated otherwise what I read is easily forgotten.

      Lee

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  21. Interesting peeve....but I have to agree. Mine actually started after I was widowed at age 58. Over two years of dealing with cancer and being the caregiver, after he died, I couldn't read or deal with anything complex. I start reading legalize, etc. and my brain fuzzes over. Still that way over 12 years later. Funny how that happens...

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    1. Donna, I think legal documents are purposely constructed to confuse and confound--that's why we need lawyers I guess.

      Lee

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  22. I'm a slow reader but the complexity of the writing is not a problem if it flow. Simple writing can be illogical as well, especially if the writer skips steps in their haste.

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    1. Roland, I agree with you. Complexity is not the issue for me if there is clarity and color. A dry treatise can bore me to no end, but a difficult concept clearly explained can make for some great reading.

      Lee

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  23. Sometimes I like things simple and sometimes I like books that are complex. I do love ten dollar sized words, but sometimes, a little more detail is better.

    I guess what I like depends on my mood. And the story.

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    1. Dolorah, mood or curiosity--that's me. If I want to read something badly enough then I'll find a way.

      Lee

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  24. I try to read at least a few deep books a year. I definitely do not write in my favorite style to read. Someday I hope too...

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    1. Doreen, my reading probably typically consists of deeper reading than I am letting on in my post. Much of my reading deals with rather deep subject matter or books about history or spirituality. I probably should read more light reading.

      Lee

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  25. Ah, see, on this we are dead opposite. If a book teaches me a new word, I instantly love it far more. My notes from editors ALWAYS include the acronym KISS. (Keep It Simple, Stupid.) This is why it's taken me so MANY MANY MANY years to finish my novel. I wrote it, edited it, and was happy with it several years ago... then I paid an editor, an English professor, and an avid fantasy reader to give it a once over. The reader LOVED it, had only a handful of minor notes. The professor is dying for the squeal, only spotted a couple of errors and one spot for revision. The editor bled all over it. She liked it on the whole, but implied that I'd alienated a vast majority of my potential market (ages 16 to 24)... basically, anyone who can't handle the NY Times crossword puzzle. Watering it down kills me. So it has taken years and vast amounts of research to figure out how to make it more "reader friendly." (If anyone uses the word "man-splaining" in a review, that's it, I'm going back in the forest where I belong. Hang out with the nice, civilized bears. :P Or, as Cartman from South Park puts it, "Screw you guys, I'm going home!")

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    1. J, don't get me wrong--I do love words and learning new ones or new meanings for old ones. If writing flows and is logical then bring on the mental complexity. If I'm getting what's being said then something must be going on correctly in the writing part.

      Lee

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  26. I don't mind if I stop reading because I've admired an idea. I don't like, when I am stopped midsentence, because of crazy comma usage. :-)

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    1. Richard, grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors have to be extremely obvious to distract my reading pace. I'd be likely to be an overly forgiving editor.

      Lee

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    2. That's down to me being a very slow reader rather than being observant. You might skip over a comma. I'll actually be running the thing through my head, almost as slow as if reading aloud. That last sentence probably doesn't need a comma. It would slow me down. I know writers who read their work out to check the flow. I think it's a good idea and plays into your overall point.

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    3. Richard, reading aloud what one has written is a good self-editing device that I also use. The errors and awkward phrasing that we might easily pass over while reading silently often become stumbling blocks when read aloud. I too am a slow reader, but this is mostly due to distractions from the outside or my own internalized thoughts prompted by what I've been reading.

      Lee

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Lee