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You Like To Write? So Can I Call You A Nerd?


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#1 Ruud

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 09:08 PM

Reading is writing and writing is breathing. We all breathe a lot to stay alive and we do some from the very start. As we do with with writing, is my position.

I bet you that you liked loved adored writing already in high school, didn't yah?

And if you're of that age that there was a "before the Internet" you likely poured a lot of writing into a journal (those were made out of paper back then... think of an offline hardcopy of LiveJournal...) and/or corresponding with people.

If you're from this era then you did the LiveJournal thing (or similar).

In either case, as a rite of passage you likely wrote some ... adolescent poetry... along the lines of

the darkness
lit
by your insanity
plea
trash dress lady
glee

with a doodle of Snoopy under it or some other unrelated crap stuff.

Recognize yourself? Are all good writers essentially nerds? Are you? Were you?

Edited by Ruud, 24 October 2009 - 10:07 PM.


#2 Ron Carnell

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 09:28 PM

Guess that depends on your definition of nerd, Ruud.

Do you really think Ernest Hemingway or Allen Ginsberg were ever nerds? :D

#3 EGOL

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 10:23 PM

I think that in a lot of fields, people who enjoy writing are hard to find. Nerds? Sometimes... but not always.

#4 Ruud

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Posted 24 October 2009 - 10:27 PM

Uh... Ernest did what again at high school? Wasn't it the high school paper <--- this is where nerds live :D As a proof of point he also wasn't that well in sport, wasn't he?

For what it's worth, I think that being given the name "Ernest" might impose nerdness upon someone the same way carrying the name "Urkel" would.

So Ernest Hemingway? *Definitely* a nerd.

And didn't Ginsberg write early on already?

Is writing something one does from early on, driven, or is it something one can pick up at any time, acquire the skill of as simple as learning how to paint a wall or carpent a floor?

#5 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 01:44 AM

Do you really think Ernest Hemingway or Allen Ginsberg were ever nerds? :)

No, but then again, I don't really see your point, as Hemingway is the only writer in that group. :naughty:

#6 jonbey

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 05:03 AM

I never liked writing. I remember telling me geography teacher that I felt it was wrong that I was being judged on my ability to write an essay on a subject rather than my knowledge of it. Uni soon taught me to write better.

I think that there is a big difference between toe sort of writing that is often seen on the Internet (blogs, my sites etc.) and good writing. My writing is still pretty poor today (I have my Brazilian wife edit my English now....) but you can get away with murder on the net. Even poorly written articles can perform well in the SE's and make money.

I do wonder to what extent the algo's take into account good writing (not just correct spelling and grammer). Do not see how they can really. Did I spell grammer write?

#7 Ruud

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 12:01 PM

I never liked writing.


And now? Just a task? Boring task? Do you find you discover techniques?

#8 Wit

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 12:10 PM

If I liked to write - I wouldn't always post one-liners here

#9 Ron Carnell

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 12:15 PM

Is writing something one does from early on, driven, or is it something one can pick up at any time, acquire the skill of as simple as learning how to paint a wall or carpent a floor?

I believe learning to write well is, not surprisingly, a lot like learning a language well. The later in life you try either, the more effort it will require. People, sadly, often don't like to do anything that requires a lot of effort. Doesn't mean they can't, but most won't.

Driven? Writing, as with any form of art, requires a huge investment of time. Like chess, the moves can be learned quickly, but full mastery requires a lifetime of practice. There's an old saw in the publishing world that essentially suggests all first novels are junk. It is not, I think, without a lot of truth. How many people are willing to spend a year of their life creating something to throw away?

Technically, I don't think a person necessarily has to be driven. Discipline could, I suppose, be an adequate substitute. But realistically? Can you think of anything really worth mastering that doesn't require drive?

BTW, one shouldn't confuse an ability to write well (communicate) with the ability to tell a good story (entertain). While those skill sets borrow from each other, they are nonetheless different creatures.

#10 AbleReach

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 12:18 PM

Always loved writing, and making art.

Came late to the nerd thing.

I was more of a d0rk. :)

// added -- why did the spelling police change that? In some other place, does it mean something more inappropriate than klutz?

Edited by AbleReach, 25 October 2009 - 12:20 PM.


#11 Ruud

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 12:42 PM

Technically, I don't think a person necessarily has to be driven. Discipline could, I suppose, be an adequate substitute


Reminds me of Paul Graham's excellent "The Anatomy of Determination":

In most domains, talent is overrated compared to determination—partly because it makes a better story, partly because it gives onlookers an excuse for being lazy, and partly because after a while determination starts to look like talent.


I like your talent-practice matrix.

21c83c532da50a4e7d77a0bdb150faf1.png

I think that my gut feeling, the one that prompted this thread, tells me that people can have talent at an early age which often drives their desire to practice -- so they can become good. Of course some have talent, do not practice and do not become good writers.

At a later age it is less likely, I think, to suddenly discover the talent -- which leave practice and technique for that stage.

BTW, one shouldn't confuse an ability to write well (communicate) with the ability to tell a good story (entertain). While those skill sets borrow from each other, they are nonetheless different creatures.


Awesome distinction.

Do you think it is even possible to have the reverse of that? Is one able to show on paper the ability to entertain if one can't write well?

I was more of a d0rk


I thought d0rks were a subcategory of nerds just as geeks are? No?

#12 jonbey

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 01:08 PM

And now? Just a task? Boring task? Do you find you discover techniques?


No, I enjoy it now. Sometimes it is a chore, but only when I see something and think "I must blog that". But when I sit down and decide on new content and start researching it, I enjoy that. If you call me a nerd I'll knock ya lights out!

#13 Ruud

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 01:09 PM

d0rk :)

Sorry, couldn't resist

#14 jonbey

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 01:18 PM

Well, if that is a subcategory of nerd, the same rule applies. Sorry. Where's that knuckle duster? Can nerds be aggressive? AND. Aggressive Nerd Syndrome. Hang on, I am starting to sound a bit nerdy now. Damn. I am a nerd! Ouch!

#15 SEOigloo

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 02:22 PM

Ruud,
Your poem cracked me up. Yes, I recognized that.

I decided I wanted to be an author of children's books when I was 5 and I wrote little stories with illustrations on the scrap paper my father brought home from his office.

But, I have to say, my defining moment came in my first year of Junior High School when all the kids were supposed to be studying feverishly for the year's end final exams. Instead, I decided to write a novel...all about teenagers dying in amazingly dramatic manners, rather like your poem. I had fun...and I aced all my exams. So, in a way, that doesn't make me a real nerd. I think a real nerd would have felt obligated to buckle down and study, but shucks, public school was so boring; I think my mind needed to fly away just to keep itself busy. Maybe that makes me a bit more of a crazy artist than a nerd, but I admire nerds :)

#16 Ruud

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 03:10 PM

I think that makes you a nerd :) Let's just say that I don't see you hanging out with the Top 10 Popular Crowd in those days.

Never left you then either, I guess; the love for writing is something ... essential?

And -- looking back, what is it that caused your desire to write, you think?

#17 AbleReach

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 03:17 PM

I think there's a love of language and ideas that can overlap poetry but is not the same thing as a nerd's appreciation for the analytical.

Ever met someone who is intuitive but doesn't think they're creative and would certainly never claim to be artistic? Different, like that.

Edited by AbleReach, 25 October 2009 - 03:18 PM.


#18 Ruud

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 03:32 PM

not the same thing as a nerd's appreciation for the analytical


I don't limit nerdness to the analytical. Nor do the popular kids at school. I think sitting hunched over writing feverishly in your notebook instead of kicking on the coolest new trend qualifies one as a nerd just as easily ;)

#19 SEOigloo

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 01:47 PM

Okay, I'm happy to be a nerd ;) I always liked the kids they called nerds in school...some of the nicest children.

Ruud, I grew up in a very literary-minded family and books were held in reverence. I was in love with the books read to me as a baby and that I started to read when I was about 4 yrs. old. Becoming an author seemed the best thing in the world one could do. As I grew up, I believe it was simply intense love of language that caught me. If Philology had remained a profession (it no longer is), I might well have become a philologist. Instead, I own a website design company and continue to devour books and study languages in my leisure time.

Right now, I am studying Old Norse (Old Icelandic) and I must say, it is an incomparable thrill to study. Here is a language with grit! Here is the language of the sagas (some of my ancestors). And, by studying Old Norse, it is especially exciting that I will also be able to read modern Icelandic which has changed almost not at all in past 1000 years because of the isolation of the country. This is unique. And, I am finding that I can already get the gist of much Norwegian and some words here and there in Swedish and Danish. 1 language turns the key to others and that is a delight to me.

So, words, words, words. Have to have them!

#20 Ruud

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 02:32 PM

I'm impressed with that; learning Nordic. Sounds so much more difficult than something else. It compares to casually throwing out there that you're trying to pick up Mandarin :)

Words, books, articles -- the written word rocks, if you ask me :thumbs:

#21 cre8pc

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 06:38 PM

Writing was my route to sanity during a horrific and scary childhood. I was constantly frightened and began to create plays, write poems, tell stories, write how-to stories (some are hilarious. I still have them from 3rd grade) and later, I wrote short stories.

True story...my dad and I were on bad terms for most of my life (we are good now). But, when I was 15, after already 2 years of running away from home, my dad wrote me a poem to try and get through to me. First, I was shocked he even cared. Then I admitted it was a good poem. It's message was clear. I needed to grow up and take responsibility for my life. The last line was:

"You have to eat, so get off your feet."

That poem was the first tiny step towards a relationship with him.

I blew away the records in my high school for editing the school newspapers. I even edited the senior paper as an 8th grader. I eventually edited my college newspaper. I entered poetry and writing contests. My writing was how my mom figured out what was in my head. My teachers could only get through to me if it had something to do with play writing, creative writing or journalism. I had no tolerance for science or math :)

I wrote songs too. But haven't done that in years.

I was never considered a nerd by anybody. Because I was troubled, I ran with the bad crowds, although I had tons of friends from nerds to jocks. I never liked barriers.

Obviously I still write and have managed to channel it so that I can use it in my work. It's interesting how it played out in my own life though. To this day I love to wander down office supplies stores and graze the pens, stationary, paper and stuff :nanatype:

#22 SEOigloo

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 06:59 PM

Ah, Kim, there is nothing quite like a fresh, unmarked notebook and a good pen, is there? I bet you know just what I mean:)

Your story is very moving. Words are power.

#23 cre8pc

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 07:19 PM

Indeed Miriam :)

Eric bought me the Pulse Smart Pen yesterday, the cheaper 1G one to give it a try. It comes with a notebook you write into with the smart pen and it records what you write, which you then upload to your computer via the USB plug. It also does a whole bunch of other things I have to learn how to do.

But the same lure of pen and paper is there, only now it comes with a camera and mini computer.

#24 Ruud

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 08:08 PM

...

Would Eric mind marrying me, you think?

#25 cre8pc

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 09:33 PM

LOL I was really surprised. He is REALLY good to me. :)

Love your Interview and esp the picture!

#26 jonbey

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 02:53 AM

Great story. I actually regret not being very wordy or arty. My parents house had no art or books at all. The only art was picture of famous race horses and the only books annual race horse directories. The only music was jazz (which I do now quite like). But I feel I never had any opportunity at home to discover art, and school was not much help.

But I try hard now! My English teacher would be proud of me I think.

I remember an interview with some banker after Uni, and the chap commented on my English Language grade ©, and said that it was not very good. I simply replied, "I like to think that my English has improved since I was at school". Which is so very true. Although my grammar leaves a lot to be desired.

#27 cre8pc

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 10:16 AM

Jonbey, that raises a good point.

My parents were very much into books and music and still are. I am a bonafide bookaholic and I think it comes from being exposed from birth to rooms with bookcases. I have a small house and every room has books in it or book cases. I've read them all, or have piles of "to read". I was raised on the old big page LIFE magazine and National Geographic, so the world was never a big mystery.

That kind of exposure helped me as I developed my own safe world and I know it saved me from getting to a point of no return, considering the path I was on. I was a 60's/70's child and strongly free spirited and angry but writing and reading were the "art" outlet. All those hippie colors and art....I couldn't draw any of it, but I could try to write in a way that might emulate the swoopy, big, charged energy of the art of that time.

The art in writing, esp poetry, is in finding the right word or words. I love to put in an unexpected word where the expected is expected.

Miriam says "words are power" and it's amazing how true that is.

Rather than "nerd", maybe we are artists :emo10:

#28 jonbey

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 10:39 AM

Rather than "nerd", maybe we are artists :emo10:


I have been referred to as an artist of sorts before......

#29 Ruud

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 02:34 PM

My parents house had no art [...] The only music was jazz [...]


That's art. Took me a long time to appreciate that art form (jazz music). Its construction is quite unlike anything else; perhaps symphonic comes close.

I am a bonafide bookaholic and I think it comes from being exposed from birth to rooms with bookcases


Monkey see, monkey do :)

I know my kids devour books. We often prefer a good read over a good movie. We have a TV in the family room but none in the living room; it's there that we often sit, each with a book, cozy lights on, 50's repro record player in the corner. Good times.

And definitely, reading == writing

#30 SEOigloo

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 11:19 PM

What kind of jazz do you like, Jon?

#31 jonbey

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 05:52 AM

Charles Mingus is my favourite (too way out for my dad), but I enjoy some Oscar Peterson too. Charles Mingus is the only big band jazz that I like, other than that small groups. Not a fan, and rarely seem to listen to nay music these days. Hmmm. Maybe I should play jazz in my office. One thing I found good about jazz is that it is easy to work to. I used to actually do my weight training to jazz, years ago. And drive to it. Radio is such a distraction, and some lyrical music can be annoying when you are trying to think about something else. Saying that I used to listed to Jazz FM all the time, but now prefer Radio Caroline (when I am not working).

#32 Ruud

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 09:49 AM

Radio Caroline! <fond memories> "Fool if you think it's over" :) Still have to watch "The Boat That Rocked".

One thing I found good about jazz is that it is easy to work to. I used to actually do my weight training to jazz, years ago. And drive to it. Radio is such a distraction, and some lyrical music can be annoying when you are trying to think about something else.


My thoughts *exactly*. I work in silence or with (smooth) jazz on. Or eclectic jazz. I have a bunch of music and let MediaMonkey do whatever with it. Chet Baker, Toots Thielemans, Stanley Turrentine... Throw in some ambient stuff and I'm coding :D

#33 A.N.Onym

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 11:06 AM

I like to think that when we write, we are weaving a spell on our readers, so we can call ourselves wizards and sorceresses :D

Strangely enough, I started appreciating jazz a few years after I stopped listening to music at all (even my favorite Johann Strauss Jr. doesn't inspire me to listen to his music again).

Edited by A.N.Onym, 28 October 2009 - 11:07 AM.


#34 Ruud

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 11:26 AM

I started appreciating jazz a few years after I stopped listening to music at all


Wonder if there is something there. After my teener & twenner years I had gone into music avoidance. Well, would hear it on the radio but not play it but occasionally. Jazz to me was what country is to a lot of people; awful. OFten would make me nervous too :D

After that long music break, smooth jazz was such a discovery! From there I randomly tried and try other jazz styles & artists ... and it's *good* :thumbs:

#35 jonbey

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 11:32 AM

I actually hate the term "smooth jazz". Sounds so, um, something. I dunno.

#36 Ruud

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 11:50 AM

Mellow jazz, maybe?

#37 TheManBehindTheCurtain

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 11:52 PM

Re: Regarding background music while reading or writing.

I find I need solitude. I don't have a link to the article and can't locate it easily via Google. Probably many studies on this: It takes about 20 minutes of concentration for writers to get into that state of restful concentration where the thoughts and words are flowing. If there's a break for a distraction, it can take you another 20 minutes to get back into that state. The phases of concentration that you pass through are somewhat like the phases you pass through as you descend into sleep; brain waves/activity during restful REM sleep are very similar to the brain activity when you are "in the groove" when writing. This applies generally to any similar activity, such as programming or designing or painting or ... (fill in the blank).

Whatever works for you is good. Myself, I have huge over-the-ear headphones at work, but they are to cancel out the noise of my surroundings and help me zone into the screen, not to pipe music into my head! (This is *very* confusing to my coworkers.) My MP3 player is full of podcasts for drive time. What little music is on there is 70s/80s rock that I play about as loud as it will go, to wash away the frustrations of the work day.

#38 SEOigloo

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 04:03 PM

We love to listen to music while we work (though not while reading).

Different music is great for different projects. Native American music is good work music...in particular the Bird signing of the Cahuilla tribe. Ethiopian pop music is wonderful for energy. Jazz (love Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Miles, Brubeck) is wonderful for the early evening work. Funnily enough, I find 70's disco music to be great late at night when you need to keep snappy on a project. The BeeGees, ABBA...stuff like that. It's silly music, but spunky. Motown is relaxing and makes a pleasant, happy change when you need uplifting. The music of the Andes is wonderful dream music...helps me to visualize artistic things. When working on our own projects, we often listen to our favorite band, Rush, because it helps us get into our own mindset so well. Music is really a gift!

Edited by SEOigloo, 29 October 2009 - 04:07 PM.


#39 Lyrafire

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 10:20 PM

I think writers are really cool people. Downright hip. But--you can call me a nerd, if you wish. And yes, I've written since pre-adolescence, but as a young mother of two youngins while in graduate school, I always thought it absurd when other creative writing students would say they would die if they couldn't write. I always thought, no, I wouldn't die if I couldn't write. That made me worry that I must not be driven enough. And I wondered why the other students didn't notice all the other cool stuff they had to live for. But then, just staring out windows makes me happy. Now at 54, I look back and see all the years that I just kept plugging away in one form or another (usually poetry) in spite of whatever the drama du jour was, so I guess I was, if not driven, dedicated, in spite of myself.

Nice to meet y'all.

(I'm a damn Yankee--a northerner who lives in the South. The word "Y'all" is the best thing about the South. So useful.)

#40 Ruud

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Posted 04 September 2010 - 06:47 PM

The word "Y'all" is the best thing about the South.


It's the best promotion the South has got going for it. That and "Fried Green Tomatoes". Or the "Ya Ya Sisterhood". Ok, Ok, so that's more than one.

Yeah, die without writing... tsk... Without reading, maybe. Even then. 54, eh? Good age. Still so much time ahead and a semblance of wisdom -- if not at least experience -- has set in.

Oh -- and looking back, regarding dedication... I think we don't "die" from not writing because we constantly do. In one way or another ... sometimes even just in our head when we walk along the streets and see the stories that happen behind closed doors.



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