Revelations of a Post Writer: We Are What We Write

 

When you write a post, you tell us a great deal about yourself. It’s one of my favorite experiences on Ricochet—getting to know people through their writing, not just learning more about a topic. Did you realize how much you tell us about yourself when you write? If not, let me tell you how you reveal who you are.

One of the first things I notice about a writer is your “eloquence factor.” There are some people who have a gift that I simply love. Their words are linked together like chains of daisies, colorful, graceful, and captivating. I don’t write that way, but I love to read others who do. It is like appreciating not only the utility of the thing, but the art that runs within and through it.

But there are others of you who are more utilitarian: words serve your mission to communicate and share with others. Your writing is often brief, to the point, with no words wasted. You are there to serve the idea, you, your computer, and the sentences you write. It is an honorable and practical endeavor.

And then there are those who are blessed with a bounty of both styles.

The writing style of some people seems to be driven by our favorite topics. Posts on the military, current events, controversies, religion, and philosophy seem to dictate how they are written and the length or brevity of what we have to say. Our passions may drive these posts, those times when we feel compelled to express an opinion, clarify a concept, or draw in the reader to elaborate on our ideas. In a sense, the poster and commenters write together, seeding additional ideas, watering, and pruning the topic. We share an enthusiasm for the topic and want to build it together, like a beautifully designed building or a colorful tapestry. It becomes not just a post, but our post.

Finally, you often tell us, directly or indirectly who you are. Our curmudgeons are often endearing and opinionated and we treasure them. Some of us are extremely curious and ask for lots of input. Some of us are set in our opinions and are mainly interested in dueling with ideas. Many of us treasure knowing more about others’ lives, experiences, struggles, and victories. And many do their best to be as private as they can for a multitude of reasons. The motivation to be private also tells us about you.

Ultimately, though, a writer reveals himself or herself: we learn about ideas, concepts, beliefs, and we learn them through you.

For those of you who write, keep writing.

For those of you haven’t, please write.

Tell us who you are.

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  1. Richard Fulmer Member
    Richard Fulmer
    @RichardFulmer

    Susan Quinn: Our curmudgeons are often endearing and opinionated and we treasure them.

    Bah, humbug!

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Our curmudgeons are often endearing and opinionated and we treasure them.

    Bah, humbug!

    Aha! I knew some of you would show up and make a statement! Well done!

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn: But there are others of you who are more utilitarian: words serve your mission to communicate and share with others. Your writing is often brief, to the point, with no words wasted.

    I shoot for that.

    I miss a lot.

    • #3
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Really have to watch those writers who write about writing, about writers, and related topics, though.

    • #4
  5. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    It would be interesting to see what a person gets from ones writings compared to reality.

    • #5
  6. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    It would be interesting to see what a person gets from ones writings compared to reality.

    That’s what those Ricochet meet ups are for. Like a Roman orgy I’d say.

    • #6
  7. Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! Contributor
    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ!
    @Majestyk

    People I aspire to write like…

    Christopher Hitchens, for recall, fluidity of prose and transmission of high dudgeon.

    Jonah Goldberg for humor and jocularity.

    Reaching high means you’re certain to fall, but at least I’ll fall with a handful of “trying hard.”

    • #7
  8. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I can confirm that I am as dark and mysterious as my writing.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    It would be interesting to see what a person gets from ones writings compared to reality.

    Not sure what you’re asking. I think they are complementary activities. When I write, I often use it to flesh out ideas of things I experience. Both my understanding of the experience and the act of writing help me clarify. Does that make sense?

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Shawn Buell, Jeopardy Champ! (View Comment):
    Reaching high means you’re certain to fall, but at least I’ll fall with a handful of “trying hard.”

    You betcha, Shawn! And sometimes you won’t fall at all!

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I can confirm that I am as dark and mysterious as my writing.

    Well, smarty pants, you don’t write a lot of posts, but I know a lot about you through your comments! So there!

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Really have to watch those writers who write about writing, about writers, and related topics, though.

    Yeah, you should know!!

    • #12
  13. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Susan Quinn: When you write a post, you tell us a great deal about yourself.

    Here I am, writing under a nom de Ricochet, and you say I’m revealing myself? Would typing in one of my anti-coronavirus masks help me hide better?

    • #13
  14. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    After I write something, I am always struck by how much I write like an Engineer – Subject/Verb/Object , rinse and repeat until done.

    I also tend to use a lot of parenthetical expressions (but like the programmer I am, I am careful that there is always a matching closing parenthesis)

    I am afraid that I also use a lot of bulleted lists:

    • Even in the case where there is only one element.

    I am afraid the only way I would be able to get a well written, concise paragraph would be to quote from Thomas Sowell.

    Heck – I’d settle for Coolidge.

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: When you write a post, you tell us a great deal about yourself.

    Here I am, writing under a nom de Ricochet, and you say I’m revealing myself? Would typing in one of my anti-coronavirus masks help me hide better?

    No matter what you do, @suspira, you can’t run and you can’t hide. We’ve got your number!! And you are one person who should write more often. 

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    After I write something, I am always struck by how much I write like an Engineer – Subject/Verb/Object , rinse and repeat until done.

    I also tend to use a lot of parenthetical expressions (but like the programmer I am, I am careful that there is always a matching closing parenthesis)

    I am afraid that I also use a lot of bulleted lists:

    • Even in the case where there is only one element.

    I am afraid the only way I would be able to get a well written, concise paragraph would be to quote from Thomas Sowell.

    Heck – I’d settle for Coolidge.

    You are a very fine writer, @willowspring. And I use many of the same tools that you use–what does that make me?? Well, I did marry an engineer . . . 

    • #16
  17. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    I think you assume too much about what is discernable. 

    For example, I doubt you picked up on the fact that I identify as a lesbian of color named Louise when writing about political matters or on weekdays or as Raoul, a 26-year old cis-male mixed ethnic weightlifter on economic matters or on weekends. 

    Or did anyone detect how much of my writing style is an intentional satire of a little known old tome The Warmth and Wit of Heinrich Himmler?  I doubt that.

    And lastly, how many people also recognized on style alone that I authored the definitive analysis of the cinematography of homophobia in Hidden in Shadow: Dystopian Homoerotic Themes in Police Academy 4:  Citizens on Patrol (1987) J WokeStudies 5:12:2000. 

    Or did you know that I wrote this comment before they made me take those damned pills again…

    • #17
  18. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I think you assume too much about what is discernable.

    For example, I doubt you picked up on the fact that I identify as a lesbian of color named Louise when writing about political matters or on weekdays or as Raoul, a 26-year old cis-male mixed ethnic weightlifter on economic matters or on weekends.

    I’m stunned that you took time out from celebrating all that is Neil Gorsuch to write this comment.

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I think you assume too much about what is discernable.

    For example, I doubt you picked up on the fact that I identify as a lesbian of color named Louise when writing about political matters or on weekdays or as Raoul, a 26-year old cis-male mixed ethnic weightlifter on economic matters or on weekends.

    Or did anyone detect how much of my writing style is an intentional satire of a little known old tome The Warmth and Wit of Heinrich Himmler? I doubt that.

    And lastly, how many people also recognized on style alone that I authored the definitive analysis of the cinematography of homophobia in Hidden in Shadow: Dystopian Homoerotic Themes in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987) J WokeStudies 5:12:2000.

    Or did you know that I wrote this comment before they made me take those damned pills again…

    LOL!!! No–I missed all that! But I do know you are a writer who blends the eloquent with the precise; that you are a grandpa and a religious man with a brilliantly sharp sense of humor. Sorry I missed the rest!

    • #19
  20. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    I think you assume too much about what is discernable.

    For example, I doubt you picked up on the fact that I identify as a lesbian of color named Louise when writing about political matters or on weekdays or as Raoul, a 26-year old cis-male mixed ethnic weightlifter on economic matters or on weekends.

    I’m stunned that you took time out from celebrating all that is Neil Gorsuch to write this comment.

    Sorry, “Neil Gorsuch” is incorrect.  Twenty-five dollars down and next question goes to Kitty Carlisle…

    • #20
  21. M. Brandon Godbey Member
    M. Brandon Godbey
    @Brandon

    I teach writing for a living, so I was born ready to reply to this post.  Here’s the basic philosophy I teach kids regarding writing:

    The English language is a machine designed to take the contents of our minds and recreate them on paper (or screen, as the case may be) through a series of codified symbols called “words”.  Our ultimate goal is to use language to describe reality to the best of our ability.  The use of language to manipulate readers or distort reality for our own purposes is beneath the dignity of the writer and an act of violence against the written word.  

    Like any machine, we judge the value of language on beauty and efficiency.  A thoroughbred at full gallop is physically impressive; the fact that it is also beautiful makes it a work of art.  I thus teach my kids to strive for efficiency, clarity, and eloquence.    Ditch the pretentious word salad.  No one is impressed by the fact that you can right click to find a word that you would never use in conversation.  Be suspicious of adverbs because their use often indicates that you’re leaning on a weak verb.  Always strive for specificity: specific nouns are best, vague nouns are inadequate, pronouns should be avoided.  Like @willowspring, I preach Subject/Verb/Object format.  I tend to write in complex sentences (independent clause + , + dependent clause), employing the dependent clause as a adjective for my object.   Learn to be flexible with your sentence structure, and don’t settle for a sentence that doesn’t express your thoughts with accuracy.  

    Most of all, come to grips with the fact that your cognitive ability is useless without solid communication skills.  Mark Twain once said that the man who will not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.  The same is true in writing.  Without the power of language all those IQ seeds you’ve carefully planted are going to rot in the field.  There will be no harvest.  

     

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Or did you know that I wrote this comment before they made me take those damned pills again…

    This part.

    • #22
  23. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    I so admire the ability to write with eloquence and humor (@kentforrester comes to mind). As you say, I can admire and appreciate that talent without having it myself.

    My AP English teacher taught me to write with an introduction, body and conclusion and my AP History teacher admired brevity above all (thus avoiding the word salad). Having never written an original thought in my life imagine my horror at having to write a 20 page paper on an accounting topic to get my BS in Accounting. To this day I don’t know how I did it – probably a lot of plagiarism.

    It’s a good thing I ended up working with numbers and not words!

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):
    It’s a good thing I ended up working with numbers and not words!

    You may not be writing “officially,” @justmeinaz, but your comments are always well done! Thanks for adding your thoughts.

    • #24
  25. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    M. Brandon Godbey (View Comment):
    No one is impressed by the fact that you can right click to find a word that you would never use in conversation.

    What if you already know that twenty-dollar word? Can I use it then? There are so many wonderful words that just sit on the bench, never getting into the game. It’s sad, really.

    • #25
  26. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Suspira (View Comment):

    M. Brandon Godbey (View Comment):
    No one is impressed by the fact that you can right click to find a word that you would never use in conversation.

    What if you already know that twenty-dollar word? Can I use it then? There are so many wonderful words that just sit on the bench, never getting into the game. It’s sad, really.

    What’s even worse is that new, younger words get recognized and receive playing time immediately.  It’s age-ist.

    • #26
  27. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    I really liked the post and it has given me much to think about.

    I’m of two minds when it comes to writing in general and posting on message boards in particular. Writing for my professional/collegial audience? I do that a little bit differently than when I write here.

    On Ricochet I’d rather write in a way that is much more like the way I’d talk to someone if they were sitting with me or talking on the phone. It’s a bit of two things: 1) getting away from “writing as work” and 2) having a nice conversation.

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Suspira (View Comment):
    What if you already know that twenty-dollar word? Can I use it then? There are so many wonderful words that just sit on the bench, never getting into the game. It’s sad, really.

    One of my great insecurities, @suspira, is that my collection of $20 words is very small.  ButI think we have a very smart bunch of people here, and they’ll likely know the word. Although I might not! But it would force me to look it up, so there’s that . .  .

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Goldgeller (View Comment):
    On Ricochet I’d rather write in a way that is much more like the way I’d talk to someone if they were sitting with me or talking on the phone. It’s a bit of two things: 1) getting away from “writing as work” and 2) having a nice conversation.

    Hey, I’d buy you a drink! Margarita?

    • #29
  30. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I think an interesting corollary to this post is whether some feel that others would be surprised upon meeting them after reading posts/comments here.  I don’t feel that way.

    • #30