Sunday, 11 August 2013

A mission statement of sorts

At the beginning of this summer I had a beautiful, simple idea about a story. I wanted to write about big concepts and big words, use novel literary techniques and all in the service of a simple idea: a stay-at-home-dad who was happy but frustrated with life. I had reasons why he was happy and I had reasons why he was frustrated. Naturally, some of these reasons were flimsy or sounded alien to anybody who actually was a dad, or stayed at home, or both. But I had a story and I got to writing.

I produced seven different openings on the first day and discarded them all. Blaming my rather cramped and smelly student house, the next day I took my laptop out to a park and tried again. I wrote a total of twelve words that way, but did abuse the free wifi to read twelve BuzzFeed articles as well. On day three I changed the total approach of the story, gender-swapped most of the roles and tried to make the entire piece dialogue-only. That evening I read aloud what I had written and realised, sadly, that it sounded like an excerpt of "The Room". At the end of the week I thought that the story was hard to write as I had tried to write it in English instead of Dutch, which is my natural tongue. A hilarious two hours followed, in which I spend more time looking up words in the Dutch dictionary than actually writing. I am now a poor excuse for a bilingual person, and I still have not written a story.
Then I realised that the reason that the story on paper was nothing like the literary genius that swirled around in my head was that the last time I wrote a story from start to finish was when I penned a one-page epic about time travel and dinosaurs. I was six at the time. Having realized this, I vowed to follow the advise popularized by Malcom Gladwell and spend 10,000 hours writing so I could become great at putting thoughts on paper.

This blog is an exercise for me to write about things that interest me. For those of you who know me, this means that I will write overly long exposition pieces on debating, opinion rants on the going-ons of politics or short commmentaries next to links to better-written articles. Perhaps there will be the odd attempt at fiction every now and then too. I am starting this blog for two simple reasons. Firstly, I want to get better at writing well, and writing in English. Secondly, specifically my posts on debating will be written as I want to share some of my thoughts or half-formed opinion about this game, and hope that these can be of help or inspiration to other people doing debate. I am writing this as a blog instead of a private journal so that I can welcome the scares, motivation and frustrations that come with writing for a (perhaps imaginary) audience.

I welcome feedback, criticism and discussion on this blog. I also welcome people who ask me to write about topics that strike their fancy. One of the worst parts about writing, for me, is to find something to write about and not get distracted. In contrast I love researching and rambling about topics once I've found them.

The blog's title is an allusion to how many minutes you are allowed to speak in a debate competition before the judge stops paying attention to you. It is also the minimum time I force myself to write every day. It is hopefully the minimum (but not maximum) time that readers are prepared to give my ramblings.

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