Monday, January 23, 2012
I've been struggling over the past few days to write an article for a (dead tree) academic journal. I was asked to do it by a friend and it's basically impossible to say no, no matter how unenthusiastic I am about the project. In particular, it's the expected form for an academic essay that has become burdensome, and provides some evidence that the blogging form, in all its informality and (most usually) brevity is a better fit for my particular (and godsknow, limited) skill set and temperament as a writer. I completely understand that a public, refereed article needs to be backed up by a certain amount of prosaic bulk and formality and a full set of citations (as well as permissions, when need be, for examples), but academic writing is just not my main gig (and in this case, not a paying gig, which is a real condition for those of us without day jobs in academe), I'm not getting compensated anywhere for that kind of completeness, and if someone really wants more explication and the full bibliography, they're more than welcome to email me for it. Mostly, with writing, I'm just eager to be done with it and go on to the next idea, to the next urgency, and in a blog I can pace myself, while with a journal article, I'm writing to someone else's schedule, which I'm happy to bend to for a commissioned composition but less happy for an article where the pay-off is just another line in my CV. The standard, well-formed essay format, the one you teethed on in high school and training-wheeled on in college, just doesn't fit every research project or opinion piece equally well and making it fit can be pedantic, when not a waste of paper and attention. More importantly, perhaps, as a composer, I think that the blogging format offers the opportunity to experiment with form, to be as laconic or obsessively complete as the writer like. And even though most bloggers don't taken advantage of these opportunities, it's damn sweet to know that they're there.