0 comments Tuesday, February 26, 2008

1 comments Monday, February 11, 2008

Why do people write? And what if they aren't good at it?

Narcissism aside, of course.

I've never understood the overwhelming desire to express ones ideas. 

I experience it almost daily... an overwhelming urge to tell people what I'm thinking. To inform people who I'm absolutely certain couldn't care less about what random crap is going on inside my twisted mind... all about said twisted crap. 

Why is that?

While an undergrad I took a class on creative writing. I did so because I used to love to write; to go off on strange tangents about strange things, playing with words and ideas. 

The class was a miserable failure. There's an inherent inconsistency with a course on being creative... my creativity was not only being judged, but it was being judged in relation to those around me.

Guess what? I didn't like it. Weird.

Thing is, I don't really care if people like my writing. My creativity. It means nothing to me. So when someone tries to provide me with "feedback" (also known as 'constructive criticism') I get thoroughly annoyed. Because I don't care. It's about the experience... not the end result.

As many of you know (speaking of narcissism... as if I have any proof anyone whatsoever reads this), I'm a second-year law student with rather lofty goals, particularly considering where I came from. I've done well in school. Law school, anyway. And I've decided I suck at legal writing. Not just a little. I really suck at it.

I abuse commas. I begin sentences with the word "and." And when one word will do just fine, I go out of my way to utilize a myriad of unnecessary verbiage. Additionally, I apply alliteration as an artful aid. Ahem.

What it all comes down to is the fact that I have an extremely difficult time writing something I wouldn't want to read. And legal writing... it's boring. Often painfully so. I'm a bad legal writer. I'm a bad writer in general terms as well. And, you know what? That's okay with me.

I've actually been told before that I'm a "good" writer. This is utterly false. I am able to convey ideas, emotions, states of being effectively. I can leave people feeling good or bad, depending on my choice of words. Presumably, those would be conscious choices... Presumably.

This, I am good at. But writing, in the traditional Strunk & White meets the Chicago Manual of Style out for a glass of sake' sense... I'm kinda pathetic.

So I've come to terms with that. I'm okay not being a "good" writer. I'll stick with what I got. And I'll continue to use whatever words feel right at the time, regardless of what the rules are. Because I won't write something I wouldn't want to read.


Many people read to get the point out of something. For me, it's completely different. I can appreciate Hemmingway and Tom Robbins in equal measure... because for me, it isn't about the end result of the work. It's about the journey. This has made law school an interesting experience for me... but I digress. (Don't I always?)

My father is always beating me over the head with that life lesson. Life isn't about the goal or the result. The real result for each and every one of us is death. On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everything drops to zero. Life is all about the journey, and how we get there.  How many people we can make smile along the way.  And I'm trying to live it. In law school, it isn't easy.

On a related note, Kurt Vonnegut's son - Mark - has a great quote:

"We're here to help each other through this thing, whatever it is."

Vonnegut was a bad writer too.  So it goes.

I hope that coming to terms with the fact that I'm not a "good" writer is an acceptable first step. And you know what?

Fuck the rules.

Writing is art. And rules (like laws) were made to be broken, redefined, challenged, and even ignored.

0 comments Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Oregon Law Students Create Online Journal to Combat Legal Inscrutability

With the law ever-increasing in complexity, students at the University of Oregon School of Law are fighting back. As the speed of the media has increased, the rate at which incorrect legal information can spread has outpaced the rate of knowledgeable legal opinion, leaving The Legality, a new online law journal to tackle current events with a legal slant.

“A quick look at the message boards of the internet by anyone with a legal eye is like a punch in the face: one person claims their uncle once told them it was so, another claims how they think it should be, and everyone else jumps on board,” said Alexander JL Theoharis, creator and Editor-in-Chief of The Legality. “A big part of the problem is that–for current news stories in particular–there’s nowhere for them to turn to get a grasp of what the law actually is in a readable format.”

The Legality is the combined forces of eleven second-year law students at the University of Oregon. The site launched February 4th, and has already simplified complex events like the Hollywood Writer’s Strike, the Scrabulous Copyright Infringement Claims, and Police Search and Seizure. The site targets potential law students, lawyers who want to read analysis in various areas of law, the intellectually curious, and the media (who may be looking for depth on a story). Unlike traditional paper journals which can take more than a year to publish articles, The Legality’s coverage of popular events is made possible by a quick turnaround. Each week a topic in the public eye is selected, and over the course of four days the team assembles a comprehensive legal analysis in a style accessible even to those unfamiliar with the law.

The Legality updates three times each week with original content. New main articles are posted each Wednesday.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please contact Alexander JL Theoharis at (206)-984-3119, or email editor@thelegality.com.