Writing. And the college admissions process (actually unrelated)

I am doing a lot of my writing offline.  There is a problem in using Starbucks Wi-Fi, and not just with security: depending upon the Starbucks and the time of day, the network can be horribly slow.  I was in a late-night Starbucks (for locals, the Starbucks at Lawrence and El Camino is open until 1:30 a.m.) and I gave up on using the wi-fi because I just could not get reliable connectivity.  What this means is that you may well be socked with tons of posts starting in December, when the 50K challenge I set for myself is over.  At this point I really do not think I am going to make it, but I would like to get as close as possible.  I have the week before Thanksgiving off work, so I am hoping to write a lot while I am cooking (which is what I pretty much spend the two days before the holiday doing – we believe in a traditional Thanksgiving, and those take effort).

Speaking of writing, the process of finding what to say is rather daunting.  I am used to blogging when I have something bothering me (which accounts for the general tone of a lot of the posts) and just blogging to write is a sort of stressful.  (It is also why I end up writing about work, since my job can be very stressful.) I suppose I could always turn to the writing prompts in WordPress or Live Journal, but I have always resisted writing according to someone else’s idea.

Being able to write a lot of words easily is one big advantage of doing a novel, especially if it is a short novel that you have no intention of publishing.  I remember when I did NaNoWri mo years ago, when I got stuck I would go back and make scenes more intricate. That actually was not a bad idea: as one professor told me, I tend to write elliptically, assuming that people could see the links in the chain I was creating without spelling them out.  I really do not want to do the same thing here – going back and revising blog posts to have more words in them seems counterproductive to what I have been working on in blogging for a lot of this year; namely, to make my writing cleaner and more concise. (I am not sure I have been succeeding particularly well, but I have been trying.  Except for this  month, when I have been not quite so concerned about using fewer words to explain the same concepts.)

Writing elliptically is a form of mind-reading (essentially assuming that everyone thinks like me, which is a bit of a stretch) which the Red-Headed Menace seems to have inherited, since he gets the same criticism of his papers.  “Well written, good ideas, but you need to explain them more completely.”  I have been trying to break myself of the habit since law school (if there is anything that will force you to be explicit about all the steps in your logical argument, it is taking a legal writing class).  I am hoping that with help from his teachers that he gets the hang of this before he trots off to college.

Speaking of college, going through the admissions process to elite schools is once again here, and I really, really hate it. There was a recent article in the Stanford magazine, which talked about Stanford’s admissions program, which started out saying they were writing about admissions because quantum physics was simply too easy. I laughed, but then I read the article.  Oy.

I will be so glad when this is over.  The hard work will end with the year – then comes the waiting until April. I do not have to do the actual writing and filling applications (although I must say, I wish the Common App had been around when I applied to colleges), but have you ever tried to simultaneously nag someone and keep them from having a complete nervous breakdown?  Thank goodness we are almost through the SAT process.  RHM only has to retake the math SAT the first of December (and hopefully get a score above his current 710, which he got having done no studying, simply deciding at the last minute to take it the same morning he took his Bio SAT).

Not surprisingly, given that this is RHM we are talking about, even the SAT process had its fair share of drama.  Because of his nosebleed, they had to photocopy his test score and submit it that way, and record that he was sick during the test.  We got a letter from the College Board stating that his test was incomplete, and that since the scores were possibly lower than he should get, they were cancelling the test scores unless we told them otherwise.  It was a tense week of figuring out alternative plans (taking the regular SAT in December, taking the Math in January) before we were found out this was a form letter that they sent to everyone who gets sick during a test, and that we should probably just tell them not to cancel the scores.  I actually think it is kind on their part to notify students (even though they do not refund your money or allow you to retake it free), since most of the time when people go into the SAT sick they do a bad job.

I just have to hold on until January. So does he.

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