One of the more annoying things about having your executive functions rot away is how you keep forgetting how to do things you’ve done a zillion times. I’ve blogged thousands of times on WordPress by now, but I still forget how to do the most basic things on it. Simple little tasks that ordinarily took a few quick steps, just a couple seconds. Now I just stare at the screen, and if I get too stuck I start to get numb all over, then queasy, then realize the epilepsy is totally fucking with me, and soon I find myself writing about what I was trying to do it instead of actually doing it. Jesus Christ, a half century of this shit. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. I need a smartphone but dread getting one as I’ll be so bewildered by it, it’ll be this little screen that opens onto a multi-dimensional warren of a zillion options, each requiring the ability to remember a few simple steps. Sounds so easy. One man’s app is another man’s seizure.
You manage to get a lot of warm surface area into brief little editorial bursts. How is this done. Period. A desperate over-writer wants to know. Some might suggests he needs to know. To quote Porter, you’re the tops.
I’ve had a couple gigs where I was really constrained by word count. At the LA Weekly I was given picks to write, sometimes, which I think topped out at 180 words. So I’d work on putting as much information as possible into that tiny space. Just kept paring it down. I also work mostly with verbs and keep the adjectives and adverbs to a bare minimum. When you use verbs you take advantage of the brain’s ability to mentally see the action (the mirror neurons) and the readers’ own mind’s eye fills in most of the details. The brain has to analyze adjectives and adverbs, but verbs make use of our pre-language faculties. Hence you can write very little, yet have a profound effect of the reader. I hear “it felt like I was there!” a lot. I’ve had people describe details in a story I’d written that were not actually in what I wrote. Their brains just filled in all the details I left out. So I make it a point to use as few descriptive terms as possible, and to always give the impression of motion. I also write a lot in an implied second person, so that even when I am writing about me the point of view is from the reader. Those are some of the things that taught me to write short.