Truth, writing, and journalistic practice

Due to the previously recounted writers block that was in full effect yesterday (an obscene amount of whining about and a rather, uh, heated discussion about content and ultimately some organizational suggestions from my parents has allowed for progress), I found myself discussing writing with a friend of mine. As I have not read anything of hers, of late, that wasn’t an email I can’t tell you exactly what kind of writing it is that she does, but I’m fairly certain it is of the personal essay kind (when it isn’t directly for school).

Earlier today I was reading an essay in an old issue of The Believer, July 2003, in fact. Protesting All Fiction Writers! by Tom Bissell, wherein he discussed the Underground Literary Alliance, who sound thoroughly crazy and often rather unpleasant. You can find them online (or you could back then). At one point he gets into the fact that writing is a solipsistic endeavor. Here’s the quote (I found it!):

“…the problem with novels is that they are written by novelists, all of whom necessarily share a basic similarity of foundational experience: bookishness, self-absorption, perceived alienation. Oftentimes, this can lead to shrunkenly personal work…”

Here is the note I made in my journal/bound pieces of scrap paper after reading that line:

Are journos (journalists) less self-absorbed than novelists? Is the outward goal of journalism, the banality & REPORTING a different drive from the novelist? Continue reading

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A peculiar kind of writer’s block

I have a miserable, horrible incomplete in my Introduction to Journalism class. It’s nasty and it’s the noose on the gallows of my holiday. Nothing good can or has come of it. I’m facing it down, trying to liberate it from this mortal coil.

I’m writing a piece on statistics and rape. I’m approaching it incorrectly, because I have a thesis, which isn’t wrong but is too forceful for something that is, ultimately, a report of some findings, rather than a piece of persuasive rhetoric. What I have (essentially) assumed (yet cannot find a means to disprove, nonetheless) is that the statistics we use to illustrate rape as a social problem and use to give us an idea of how big or prevalent or whatever the problem is… Aren’t very good.

But I can’t figure out how to write this thing. I keep reading, hoping that more information will make the writing easier (often, I cannot write until I feel like I know the information inside out and backwards, until I can recount the argument and the facts in my sleep, because they have become so familiar to me. I can’t write the small thing, until I have surveyed the entire problem) … But I’m worried, twofold. Continue reading