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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Essays

Good writing should be convincing, certainly, but it should be convincing because you got the right answers, not because you did a good job of arguing.The Age of the Essay

You should read Paul Graham's essay on essays. It's good.*

I love blogging because it gives me a chance to try--the definition of essay--out an idea. I'm still not to the place where I begin all my posts with a question. I still tend to start with a thesis. But I love the process of working out an idea while writing. It's exciting and fascinating. Yes, I am fascinated by my own posts. Perhaps I'm just really easy to please <smile>.

Dr. Graham's essay was whirling around my head when I wrote my most recent inflammatory post. Here's the excerpt that really tore into me:

...staff writers feel obliged to write something "balanced." Since they're writing for a [general audience], they start with the most radioactively controversial questions, from which-- because they're writing for a [general audience]-- they then proceed to recoil in terror. Abortion, for or against? This group says one thing. That group says another. One thing is certain: the question is a complex one. (But don't get mad at us. We didn't draw any conclusions.)

Ouch. That's me.

Yesterday's post was my first conscious attempt to write something surprising and yet convincing. Sadly, due to a poorly constructed, rather long, not particularly to-the-point, complex sentence, several people weren't convinced. Quite the opposite. Thankfully, given the opportunity to try again, things seem to have settled down.

And that's a part of blogging that makes writing so rewarding: These are public essays that, with great feedback, bring us all to the right answers. And right answers are important. Right answers can help us homeschool better.

I see blogging as a natural next step in creative writing. The Language Arts activities my parents gave me all those years ago made creative writing a joy. I composed my first poem before I could write. And now blogging is a daily opportunity to continue in creative writing that matters.

Do you encourage your students to blog? Have you added Sonlight's Language Arts program to your Core? What do you think of Dr. Graham's essay?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

*Come to think of it, you should read his essay on Why Nerds are Unpopular too.

2 comments:

Jamie Jo said...

I loved the essay on essays, and plan to reread it at leisure later today. Frankly I had to laugh at the hub-bub over your last post, which I totally "got."

None of my kids blog (yet), but I have to admit that my own blog grew out of home schooling. Just as I model the habit of reading, I began to model the high value of writing.

I used to faithfully require a half hour of writing every day. During that time I would write, too. After a while I decided someone else should read my ponderings, too. (Like you, I am easily pleased). Voila!

Luke said...

Jamie, I'm still mulling over the madness of Monday's post, and today's post a further exploration of that (though not explicitly stated). And I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who is easily pleased with myself <smile>.

~Luke


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