3 years ago
timeturnerjones
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David Foster Wallace's Advice on Becoming Who We Are
Another wonderful post on Brain Pickings! The articles here are so great, but this one especially stuck out to me. David Foster Wallace has been one the top writing figures I have studied throughout college, and one of the figures that many writing students of today seek to emulate. There has also been the question of whether or not he is 'overvalued' as a writer, but because he is someone that gives so much to the writing community, I really disagree with those who feel that way. While Wallace is no longer with us, his impact and thoughts about writing remain strong, and I particularly love this work. Garner extensively interviewed David Foster Wallace and published the conversation as "Quack This Way: David Foster Wallace and Bryan A. Garner Talk Language and Writing." Wallace, on learning to write: "In my experience with students—talented students of writing — the most important thing for them to remember is that someone who is not them and cannot read their mind is going to have to read this. In order to write effectively, you don’t pretend it’s a letter to some individual you know, but you never forget that what you’re engaged in is a communication to another human being. The bromide associated with this is that the reader cannot read your mind. The reader cannot read your mind. That would be the biggest one. Probably the second biggest one is learning to pay attention in different ways. Not just reading a lot, but paying attention to the way the sentences are put together, the clauses are joined, the way the sentences go to make up a paragraph."
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"Someone who is not them and cannot read their mind is going to have to read this." I often think about this when I write in my journal. I write the bare minimum because I know that I will remember what I meant to say. If anyone discovered my journal a hundred years from now it would make ZERO sense.
@sophiamor I have the same problem all the time! Even I forgot sometimes....words don't mean much without context.
Wallace definitely learned even more about writing through teaching it: which is one reason I hope to keep teaching (and hope it will reflect on my writing...)