Thursday Three #37

  1. This article nicely condenses a lot of what I’ve been thinking in the past few weeks into a small package. The theory is that killers such as Adam Lanza, the Columbine shooters, and now Devin Kelley, did what they did primarily because of our culture, which is becoming more and more devoid of genuine human connection. We have lost genuine human connection because of automation and technology. We can do tasks such as check out at a grocery store and check in at a hotel without any human connection whatsoever. This can lead to feeling isolated, which can lead to irrational resentment and hatred, which, combined with guns, untreated/undiagnosed mental illness, a toxic upbringing, or any other number of factors, can lead to mass murders.
  2. Here’s another good article about why reading literature matters. The article is geared toward college students, but it’s an excellent reminder to not let your reading habit fall by the wayside. Read widely, and you will grow in knowledge and wisdom.
  3. Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but I wrote a blog post for the American Medical Writers’ Association. The purpose of it was to advertise an open session my colleague and I presented at a conference a couple weeks ago. I believe it’s the first time I’ve written a blog post for something that isn’t this blog, so that’s a kind of milestone. 🙂 If you’re into writing grant submissions and proposals or that’s something you do regularly, you may find it interesting.

How is your week going?

The Four-Day Schedule

If you had a choice between a “standard” work schedule (i.e., Monday through Friday for 8 hours each day) and a “shortened” schedule (i.e., Monday through Thursday for 10 hours each day), which would you choose?

At first, the shortened schedule looks like it would be great. After all, you do get Friday off, so you can get used to having long, luxurious three-day weekends. I personally don’t think I would do it, simply because cramming 10 hours of work into a single day would be painful mentally and physically, especially for four days in a row. My job involves thinking and basically being inside my own head all day long, as well as sitting in front of a computer screen, so I’d overthink myself into panic mode and strain my eyes. Other jobs might lend themselves better to 10-hour stretches.

To me, the main problem with the standard work schedule is that it can get tiring going into work five days in a row, especially if you commute every day. My solution to this would be not to have a day off on Friday but to have a day off on Wednesday, so your 10-hour workdays would be broken into more “bite-size” periods. Another solution would be to work remotely on Wednesday if possible so you can avoid the commute and use the time that’s normally spent driving for more worthwhile things, like cleaning or cooking (or maybe even working on a hobby if you’re very lucky).

What do you think? Would you work on a 4-day schedule if you could?

Minutiae, My Specialty

I was having a hard time titling this post because my mind blanked. I was going to title it “minutiae is my specialty,” but then I remembered that “minutiae” is a plural noun. “Minutiae are my specialty” made it sound like I was trying too hard (like those annoying people who insist on using proper grammar in every aspect of their speech), so I took advantage of one of the myriad uses of the comma.

Anyway, before I get too sidetracked while explaining my crazy thought process… the point of this post is that editing matters. If you think skipping editing in your quest for publication is OK and you can rely on readers to find errors after you’ve put your work out in the public eye, think again.* You cannot always catch your own errors, and if you do, you often catch them too late. (I’m sure you’ve had those terrible, stomach-dropping moments when you realized that you sent an email with a mistake in it just seconds after you actually hit “Send.” And as Murphy’s Law would dictate, it was most likely a very important email.)

Formatting minutiae matter, too. If you’ve ever picked up a self-published book and noticed funky line spacing, margins that are just a bit too wide, or copy that’s littered with extra keyboard spaces, then you probably won’t trust the author to tell you a good story as much as you would if she had paid attention to the formatting. Oh, it’s just an extra space. It doesn’t matter, the author might say. Nobody will notice. That kind of thinking is dangerous because it leads to dismissing so many of those little things that they gang up and overtake the work, making it appear sloppy.

However, the great big caveat is that perfection is nonexistent. In your own work, picking at the minutiae (or having someone else do it) is important, but it is equally important not to get too bogged down in it and know when to let go. As writers (and editors), this is a fine line to tread.

*And believe me, they will find errors after you’ve published… and they will never let you forget them. Best to edit before publication.