Thursday, December 19, 2013

After a hiatus

One of the nice things about writing on an almost totally unknown and unread blog is that no one cares if I take an unusually long hiatus.

My last blog sat for a year, unattended, before I finally put it out of its misery and took it down.

The hiatus was caused by... well, I have no end of excuses. But there were a few good reasons. I redesigned my website, something long overdue and that took me down lots of dead ends. I wasted more time than was good for me trying to come to terms with Javascript and jQuery, before deciding to leave that to smarter folks who expect more from their browser experience.  Next step: Try to fix the margins so that it looks good on a tablet as well...

Another major cause was the looming deadline to submit my dissertation to the Juilliard Doctoral Committee. I got it in with 30 minutes to spare, on December 2. Much of the last few months of editing involved getting things to “flow”, as my advisor would put it. The language had to be fixed and compacted. Reading it now, it feels almost too compact, as if every sentence was trying to compress an entire chapter of my research into improvisation. My ideal would be a kind of do-it-yourself guide to free improvisation, touting the benefits (musical, creative, spiritual, health, whatever) of group improvisation for classical musicians.

I don't like brevity for its own sake. I bristled a little when I had to rewrite my sentences to make them a few words shorter, or I had to use circumlocutions to avoid repeating a single word too many times. It definitely made things more... efficient. But is efficiency really the end-all of writing? Writers like Malcolm Gladwell, or Steven D. Levitt of Freakonomics, manage to make their arguments simple and cogent, but they don't spare words. Instead they find a lot of different ways to get to the same point, emphasizing it through varied repetition. That's what I'd like to be able to do. Unfortunately, my repetitions, read back with the benefit of a few months' hindsight, merely sound repetitive. So they had to go.

I'll try to keep a reasonable schedule of updates here in the future. After all, I do enjoy blogging, even if it is mostly for my own edification.

No comments:

Post a Comment