Today is my 50th birthday, and I will celebrate my half-century in a number of ways.   I will be playing keyboard tonight at Tokyo Garden in Fresno between 6:30-7:30, defend my team’s winning Fresno Pub Quiz ways at the Landmark restaurant between 8:00-10:00, then return to Tokyo Garden to have an adult beverage and pal around with some fellow musicians.

Also, today, I reactivate my blog in earnest, and with a modest goal: namely, that I will write a half-million (500,000 or more words) on my blog this year.  I often give writing assignments to students of 400-600 words, and one would think from their reaction that it is a form of ingenious torture on my part to, you know, actually compel them to compose paragraphs and link them together in response to a prompt.

I’ve calculated that, in order to achieve a modest goal of a half-million words per year (there are many who have done a million in a year), that I will have to average 1,370 words per day.   I am going to set this goal for myself, and (if I am spared) will attempt to hit my yearly target.   My goal is to not only provide a very present counter-example to student objections, but to emphasize the importance of regular writing.   Good writers achieve skill in writing by writing, and rewriting.   Just as there is no substitute for practice in athletics, there is no substitute for skill rehearsal in writing.   To help my students, I plan on requiring them to write more this year than ever before....and, frankly, to rewrite.

An ancillary goal to this is to not only enliven my blog presence, but to force myself to read and think about new things.   Since I didn’t teach summer school, and since I am now pretty much completely recovered from last summer’s spinal injury, I have been able to expand my reading lists (more on that in subsequent posts).   This has reminded me that intellectual growth becomes stunted by over-specialization or over-emphasis of certain topics or concerns.   My blog has a heavy interest on science education and the challenges it faces, but after several years of emphasizing this topic, I’ve lost my mojo.   Forcing myself to write to a certain limit, every day, will essentially force me to grapple with new ideas and experiences that might otherwise not have penetrated that part of my intellectual life.   And yes, “intellectual life” sounds pretty pretentious, but you have to remember that “intellectual” is not synonymous with “smart” or even “gifted.”   An intellectual is not necessarily any wiser than Joe Six-Pack, but they are interested in ideas.  You don’t have to be an Einstein to have that interest, but if you want to share your interests effectively, if you want to communicate with people outside your immediate social circle, you must write.  And, when dealing with difficult or controversial things, you must almost certainly constantly reevaluate what you have written, and when appropriate, revise and reform:  rewrite!

Word count:  499

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a helluva goal! I'll do my best to read every word. Or every word posted under the *Personal* tag.

I SO wish I could be at Tokyo Garden between 6:30 and 7:30 PDT tonite ...