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Boiling five pounds of bullshit down to one sentence

"I speak a visual language that has been woven with threads of experience and colored with the seasons of my life." - Susan, artist

I laughed, thinking about writing my ex-husband's artist statement for his art shows. We are friends. Over the years, he has depended on my writing skills to get a new job (resume) and promote his art classes.

Alas, Terry gives me three pages of vague rambling about his "process." King of the run-on sentence. A recent show had portraits painted by Terry. Some of his best work.

"Terry, nobody cares about your artistic process besides you," I said. "Who are you trying to reach? Parents of kids who could take your art classes?" Yes.

So, I asked questions, getting him to describe how he helps kids feel safe taking creative risks. Then I gave him one sentence on his artistic process:

"In creating portraits, I begin with a realistic image of my subject and explore the symbolism, ambiguity and mystery behind the image."

The last two paragraphs listed Terry's education and experience as an artist and art teacher.

Three pages of rambling turned into less than a page.

Have you edited vague rambling?

LiterateHiker 9 Aug 24

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29 comments

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10

I wish we could edit some folks when they're speaking .

@Cast1es

Terry has verbal diarrhea. He thinks out loud, talking in circles.

Since Terry is a teacher, I figured out to raise my hand. Terry stops talking and calls on me.

Then I summarize what Terry said in one or two sentences.

"Exactly!" Terry replies, delighted. He's off again, talking about himself.

Hate to admit it, but I felt intellectually bored. I couldn't imagine spending a lifetime listening to his rambling.

9

Your confidence is obvious and there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance - be mindful of the difference... the world is full of arrogant assholes... humility is also powerful even when you know you are right.

7

Take other people's attention as a privilege. Never take it for granted.

5

I have not but you reminded me of a couple of friends of mine. One is a well-known author but famous for his complex analysis and complexity of thought. The other was his editor. The editor said it was a struggle to get the writer’s book — it was popular — into a form that people could comprehend. Mostly because the writer fabricated complex sentences loaded with connected but abstract difficult concepts. The writer was a professor of philosophy specializing in economics and is now professor emeritus. And the editor is writing his own book on cinema locally now that he has retired.

But the writer used to give sold-out lectures to packed houses in large venues. I attended one of those and noticed that he would get a thought about his prepared speech and take off on a tangent eventually returning to where he left off in his prepared notes. At the intermission, I spoke to him and said, “What’s it like living inside your head?” He said I wouldn’t want to know!

@ToolGuy

Thanks for your well-written, excellent reply.

I use to work with PhD's who think a 50 word sentence is short. Drove me around the bend! I have a 20 word rule. Then a new sentence. I would mark the text up and send them back. I think I have been called every name in the book!

5

I"ve edited my own vague ramblings...

I produce what I call my "zero copy". This I then edit to get the first draft, which is in turn edited to produce the second draft, etc. until I reach something I feel is good enough to be a final draft.

@Petter and then what happens to it?

@MissKathleen I print and be damned - all the way to the bank.. The public at large actually paid to read the drivel!

4

Boiling 70 tons of bullshit down to 3 words. "Thoughts and prayers."

I found this visual a few years ago, enjoy!

4

Brevity is the soul of wit.

4

I might be a master of vague rambling, I do compose poems.

I have composed many poems, always with a strict meter and rhyme. I have also twice written full length pantomimes in rhyming couplets with strict attention to meter. (I enjoy the challenge.)

I stick to haiku, and even simplify that.

3

I have done a lot of editing over my years - some for publication, some for resumes, some for my own things to be published. The worst was definitely the resumes for people. Okay, folks, can you say "succinct"?!?

3

As an editor, I do this daily. The thing is, I edit other writers’ writing, so they really should know better (but some absolutely do not). Job security!

This is why there ARE editors!

3

Can you edit some products? Like cars? … Or even telephones and computers. How many things we consume have features we never use, sometimes never even discover and sometimes don't even want to discover.

3

I had to teach report writing. I asked my students to find government report and dissected them. The problem is lean reports don't get taken seriously.
I remember my first uni assignment: NO MORE THAN 60 PAGES! I stuck to that and handed in 12, which included the bibliography.

3

Tell me about it. As editor and proprietor of a publishing business with 3 "titles" in print, I spent hours clarifying, creating précis, adding punctuation, and generally "converting to readability" the contributions that came in.
The "pseuds" were the worst, submitting high sounding, meaningless phrases, often without a single verb, which could have been précised to "I doodle" or "I act", etc.

@Petter

Thanks for your well-written, funny reply.

3

Nah, the opposite. My ex gets me to proof read her papers. She gets into hyperlinear, ultradense brainflow mode when she's writing. Then I go through and put in the punctuation and connectives that make it readable.

3

I think you didnt do a very good job. He is speaking to the feeling of being free in the creative process, and you eliminated. One side of your brain is not talking to the other side of their brain. He was. You are not because you speak a different language.

You are so smart , feel that language.

@Bigwavedave

Terry loved what I wrote. Over the years, he has depended on my writing skills to get a new job (resume) and sell his art classes.

At the art show, Terry's audience was art lovers, potential buyers and parents interested in art lessons for their kids.

I won three national awards for marketing and program development. The key to marketing is selling benefits.

Benefits for kids: Have fun. Feel safe taking risks.

Benefits for parents: Their kids learn to deal with frustration, feel safe and develop their creativity.

The last two paragraphs listed Terry's education and experience as an artist and art teacher.

???

2

I am writing a book now. I am at 15k words on a stop to see where things were going-more storyboards.
I then print things out after while in edit format so I have lots of room to scratch and add in then I'm back in to correct and its all fresh again for the new story boards. I can not edit without hard copy and a pencil.I'm going to the beach for week in September to do another long session of writing. I always find that my mind has moved faster than I can type and words are missing in first draft edits.

2

Yes. Mine.....but I do enjoy a good editing! 🙂

2

Oh, yeah.

Used to do it for a living years ago when I was technical editor for a publication catering to software developers. Most of my fellow devs have NO idea how to write concisely or coherently. Because we were hungry enough for good content, I'd sometimes do a total ghost rewrite of a submitted article.

On the other, and more satisfying, side -- a couple of times I was able to show a good writer that it was in the realm of the possible for them to be an author, and I was instrumental in launching a couple of pretty good careers. One of them even thanked me for it.

2

LOL Hell yea, I usually edit by rambling

CS60 Level 7 Aug 25, 2019
2

No, but since the Internet became a thing, I've read a lot of it.

2

Wow, I'm such a simplicity minimalist that I can't even comprehend this! Terry is lucky to have someone there willing to help him with this, I hope he at least appreciates it.

2

When my podcast network also did articles I was essentially the editor as I had experience writing for other outlets. Let me tell you the amounts of extraneous information that can be cut from a soccer or baseball article are ENDLESS lol

2

I started writing opionion pieces. I was well advised to edit out every word and idea that was not necessary to convey the idea. Now i write scripts for my videos. When I finally edit them I found I still ramble im my scripts. 40 mins of breaks, retakes and editing out the raamble gives me about 5-10 minutes of content, but i am rambling.

@DavidLaDeau

"Omit needless words." (Strunk and White).

@LiterateHiker That is the only book I have left from my freshman year in college, 1976. Required reference for expository composition.

2

I have not done a lot of editing, but have occasionally had to deal with some of this. It’s frustrating

2

"I am that I am", "it is what it is", "you do you and I do me" all work for me.

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