Writer’s Wildcrafting Excursion

I will be gathering collections of thoughts, considerations, ramblings and out and out good practical advise in this section. I will be happy to share my harvest and map out a trail to the rarest finds as together we wander through the unfamiliar wilderness of the twenty first century writing industry. Hopefully my travelogue will save you some time, or at least provide some entertainment value!
Please add any of your own thoughts, experiences , questions or suggestions in the comments section.

Double Spaces to end a thought… To use or not to use, that is the question.

Should We Use a Single or a Double Space at the End of a Thought?

My son is taking college classes in lieu of high school and I have been editing his work. I later realized that he had also been re-editing my edits and restoring single spacing at the ends of his sentences.  This was the first I had heard of the single spacing rule, despite evidently reading single spaced publications for decades.  I told him to ask his English Professor for his opinion and he came home and pronounced double spacing to be the correct form to end a sentence. In the meantime I found that it is no longer the industry standard, yet still I am not certain it is “incorrect” either.  I understand certain publications declaring their own parameters based on production, economic and aesthetic standards.

Like the majority of my generation, I learned to double-space automatically in high school.  Back in the mid to late seventies, when manual typewriters were still in use, I would have blessed the one space rule, as my manual space bar was always such a bear to press that I would at times need to re-type a whole page for having missed a space!

Despite the insistent viewpoint that typographers should determine the standards, I do not believe them to carry the sole voice in this subject.  Somewhere in this realm of aesthetics and practicality the voice of the author must be communicated with clarity to the reader, and the reader must be able to extract with as much ease as possible the information presented.  Decisions are made balancing the content and its natural order, spacing and progression with the symmetry and beauty of its shape and presentation on the page. I never considered these elements until called upon to present my lectures as power point presentations. For this format I discovered a whole new world of font and spacing variations and quite literally spent hundreds of hours focused on the aesthetic presentation of my content. The relevancy here lies in the value judgments I was forced to make when the arrangement of ideas did not fit into the visual aesthetics of the frame I was creating. As a professor when I needed to compromise it was the aesthetics rather than the content which would be sacrificed.   Now, years later I am one of those latent writers finally putting action to rumination and attempting my first novel. I am aware that most editors require single spacing, but I am oh so resistant to this change.

I can train myself physically to type single space, but not to think in that manner. As a writer, hitting that second space is my internal punctuation point. ‘Tap tap’ with both thumbs resets my thought processes in the middle of a paragraph, and provides a satisfying sense of completion at the end of a paragraph or point of view. Single spacing denies me these small victories and my writing process is less enjoyable, more tedious. When writing single space sentences I feel driven to continue to a natural spacial pause, which brings me to the end of a paragraph so I may at least type period, space and RETURN.

Intellectually I understand there is quite simply less physical work with single spacing, but often my best writing is more instinct than intellect. When I double space I am communicating this pause. When I write a longer sentence divided by a comma and a single space I am communicating a lesser pause. As a reader, a double space at the end of a sentence draws my gaze to that extra space, maintaining my reading position as I absorb the content, relationships and import of the completed sentence. I then move fluently onto the next sentence without re-reading for the purpose of finding my place. Intrinsically I believe that single spacing encourages the reader to digest complete paragraphs rather than stand alone sentences. It is the exception, rather than the rule, that the quickly scanned word combinations actually trigger the arduous process of re reading and fully assimilating content.

I postulate that “instinctual double spacing” actually changes the way we read single space type. That those who type with the extra space/pause will re read more frequently or more carefully due to habits ingrained with reading spaced out sentences. Conversely, single spacing would lead to different reading techniques. Now that children are taught early to use a keyboard I am wondering if the single spaced reading pattern will in some way form a different level of thought processes. Symbolically, it may be likened to hiking through a forest trail for exercise. Sights, sounds and smells form a fast moving medley and a generalized impression. Allowing for the extra space between sentences allows one to meander slowly along a path while stooping silently here and again for a closer look at the miraculous beauty within arm’s length.

For all of our scientific advancements, we are light years away from producing a controlled study that can contain these many variables. Suffice it to say that instinct and common sense leads me to conclude that sentence spacing affects the impact of what we read on our creative and deductive minds.  I do believe that we may lose something precious if we entirely eradicate this writing standard. Traditional does NOT mean out-dated.   In these times when we are racing to keep up with our own technologies at the expense of much we have taken for granted, any process which supports our intuitive knowledge is crucial.
All told, I will continue to add a second space at the end of my sentences, either typographically or internally. If a publishing format requires single spacing I will reluctantly edit with find and replace, and submit a single spaced translation of a work composed in double space. For the fleetingly short time that my children still prioritize my opinions, I will encourage them to do the same. In this way I hope that they too will find the instinctive pauses in our ever more hectic lives in order to absorb the world around them and to savor their small victories.

Link for more information:  http://www.heracliteanriver.com/?p=324%E2%80%8E.

The preceding essay is written in reaction to an informative and well researched post on the history of typesetting and the timeline for the change from double to single space conventions following the period at the end of a sentence.   It is well worth reading and can be found at the following address:




Musings on Filth and Fumes- One Writer’s Expanded Resume by Ilona Rapp

subway passengers NewYork City

New York City Subway scene

My daughter landed in New York this week.  To my delight, she asked about my favorite haunts in Manhattan.  My memories, surprisingly, are almost as old as she is, and from a time when I was exactly her age.  That coincidental juxtaposition of place and time inspired a review of who I am now, who I was then, and the obscure roots of my development as a writer.
As a newly forming adult, the sights, the sound and the smells of the city were exhilarating.  I felt I belonged to that great clamoring mass of culture.  I felt like it was all mine, the many languages, the accents, the tones of voice and the idioms in some way belonged to me. because I too was immersed in the crucible.
An image of “my” city flashes in my mind,  an immense mural, identifiable as a single work only when viewed from afar.  The closer I examine the overall picture,  the more I realize that it is a mosaic, made up of countless still images, no less impressive than the whole.  Unlike a simple mural, it contains sights, sounds, smells, tastes, physical and emotional sensations.  Its individual parts contain the histories of its inhabitants, enlivened through expressions, tones, gait and costume.  In this maelstrom of collective story, I wandered unwittingly on the path of my muse, too enthralled to acknowledge the developing writer within me.
Perception is bound by perspective, both in space and time.  My writer’s roots, quiescently enmeshed in my burgeoning world view, were grasping for sustenance.  My innate yearning to write, was born of gathered impressions.  Every thought, act and experience was filed safely in my writer’s trove.

Continue reading

Read the fine print! Writing Competitions, Stress and Relief (or “if it can go wrong, it probably will!”) by Ilona Rapp 02 23 15

chaos illustration avator

Chaos is the Mother of Solace

I am going to skip to the conclusion and announce that I successfully submitted my three entries into the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Unpublished Contest two days ago. It was, of course, the final day and the final hour of the deadline.
Yes, I did plan on completing everything a few days earlier, but of course I was still editing on Friday morning. The truth is you can’t plan for everything, and small details such as work and family obligations tend to take front and center when there is still a day or so to go and you really have the whole day off to gather everything together. The following saga, (or should I say synopsis) is all about the best laid plans!
Here’s what I didn’t plan on: Continue reading

AUTHOR BRANDING: Semantics, Contrivances, Contradictions and Empowerment Part I: Deconstruction and Reconstructing (AUTHOR OR WRITER)by Ilona Rapp 02 22 15

Dante Alighieri Statue, Florence, Italy (c. 1 June 1265 – September 13/14, 1321)

Public Domain File:Dante Alighieri01.jpg Uploaded by JoJan Created: October 12, 2005 JoJan (talk | contribs) Dante Alighieri (c. 1 June 1265 – September 13/14, 1321) was a Florentine poet Statue outside the Uffizi, Florence Own photo – photo taken on 12 October 2005 I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.Deconstructing and Reconstructing:  Author or Novelist?

For the writer, language is a powerful tool. Some writers sidestep the title of “author” on the basis of semantics. Despite their status as synonyms,
the two words can carry different connotations. Going back to basics, I looked for the nuances in their definitions, and my own recognition of the
words as they apply in today’s society.  Mr. Alighieri would likely have waxed poetic on the subject, (sorry), and his image is quite “authorial.”

In the Miriam Webster Free Online Dictionary, “author” is defined as follows:
: a person who has written something; especially : a person who has written a book or who writes many books
: a person who starts or creates something (such as a plan or idea)
1a : one that originates or creates : source b capitalized : god 1
2: the writer of a literary work (as a book)
— au·tho·ri·al\ȯ-ˈthȯr-ē-əl\ adjective” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/author)

In the same reference source, “writer” is defined as:

: someone whose work is to write books, poems, stories, etc.
: someone who has written something
: one that writes: as
a : author
b : one who writes stock options (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/writer)

For all intensive purposes, in modern English, the two words are interchangeable, with the exception of a connotation of career (the writer’s work is to write) and a nod to many works with “author” which is alluded to for “writer” as well. Nevertheless, individual affinities for both terms exist within the writing world.If I were to define my conception of “Author,” as an identity, it would be one who has participated in “published and/or monetarily successful,original or novel writing endeavors.”
I have defined my presupposition, (though it is NOT inclusive of the entirety of connotations regarding the relationship to a single document). Now to examine my associations with “Writer.” Honestly, I can equally apply my definition of one who has participated in “published and/or monetarily successful original or novel writing endeavors.” It fits, but the term “writer” is more general in my mind, less circumscribed. Writer can simply be ascribed to placing words on paper, as in writing the minutes for a meeting, writing down a quotation in calligraphy. A Writer may involve himself in creativity, but also evokes a sense of the physicality of writing. A writer, in modern times, can be a machine, as in a typewriter. An author can dictate to a writer, but a writer would not generally dictate to an author (though they could, of course, dictate to another writer, or a dictation/writing program, and screenwriters may at times ignore an author!)
Inversely, a writer could “write” the theory of relativity (which is exactly what Albert Einstein achieved), yet one does not “author” a mathematical theorem, or HTML code for that matter, both of which are original creations. Of note as well, we write and/or compose music and song, which is the creation of new content) yet we do not “author” it. So what do I label myself?

Still hoping for an understanding of the words, one or both of which I sought to assimilate) I reviewed their origins in the “Online Etymological Dictionary,” and followed the links to dictionary.com. Here’s what I found: Continue reading