Saturday, April 16, 2011

If it's baroque, fix it.

I was pleased to learn that one of my blog posts, Slow Making, has been selected for inclusion in the UU World Magazine which is sent to members of Unitarian Universalist congregations in the US. The editor described my writing style "as baroque yet subtle." He said,"I find it both demanding and rewarding." Some editing was required. The version of the post that will appear in print will be improved over its first publication in this blog. Writing is just like any other craft. You get better at it by doing it, and despite my efforts to have a plain and effective voice, just as in the making of beautiful things, my own character and wandering excentricities show through.

I've worked with a variety of editors and each has helped me see just a bit more clearly how I write, and each has helped me in finding my voice. That is not to claim that necessary improvement in my writing is complete. We human beings learn best by doing and we would all be better writers if we were first doing things worthy of writing about, and about which we feel passion. An editor can cut the writer's long meandering thoughts (photo at left) into short sentences,  but if meaning and passion aren't there in the first place, writing is in serious trouble.

What does it mean if one's writing style is baroque? According to blogger Mark Dominus, in a baroque writing style, "The sentences are long, but always clear, if read with care and attention." Dominus states, "I like being required to read with care and attention. I'm good at it, and most modern writing does not offer the reader much repayment for that talent." So I will not apologize for word lines that wander, but cut true the pencil lines marked on wood.

My challenge is to keep things simple... to state my case as clearly and concisely as a fine line in furniture or in a box, so readers don't have to work quite so hard to get my point. Aside from that there is little that I can tell you that will make sense or make your life more meaningful unless you are concurrently observing the wisdom of your own hands.

Make, fix (the baroque) and create.


  1. Doug, you are an excellent writer....baroque or not !

  2. JD, it has taken a few good editors to keep my engine running true. But having readers is really what gives a writer the motivation for it. Thanks for reading, thanks for noticing and thanks for your kind words.


  3. Doug, I read your blog every day...You are a true inspiration in the face of all the other "stufff" I have to deal with every day.

  4. JD, Great readers make great writers. I don't know what is involved in all the stuff you mention, though I suspect it has to do with management. I'm not sure that any of us are really well suited to that. I've been reading Ivan Illich again. It is a great book to struggle through at bedtime as one can quickly get drowsy reading that kind of thing. We take the decision making rights and capacity and training away from people, undermine their sense of confidence and authority, and then have to have someone in management, manage, when it would be so much more "convivial" to work toward shared objectives with self actualized individuals with their own intellectual and physical tools to do the job.

  5. Anonymous6:20 PM

    I'll be looking for the blog post in the UU World. As for your writing, from your first book to now, it reminds me of the way you speak, the way you explain things. Your written "baroque" sentences, like your spoken ones, deserve attention.