Writing

In her acceptance speech for the US National Book Award, writer, scientist and ecologist Rachel Carson argued that the arts of science and writing are inextricably linked.

The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything in our experience. It is impossible to understand man without understanding his environment and the forces that have molded him physically and mentally.

The aim of science is to discover and illuminate truth. And that, I take it, is the aim of literature, whether biography or history or fiction; it seems to me, then, that there can be no separate literature of science.

Rachel Carson

Even ficticious work, which does not seek truth in the literal sense, uncovers and explores the nature of humans as we are, have been, and could be.

Science and writing are seperate forms of exploration, unfied by the same motive.

There’s something special about things which are refined; those which are distilled to their purest form. In language is perhaps where that simplicity is at its best.

We each share an intuitive appetite for sentences without fat.

When we receive a direction impossible to understand, or offered compliment so genuine that it doesn’t need to be prefaced, we are engaged in one of the most basic and delightful treasures the human experience has to offer.

The point is to get to the point, with as much precision and clarity as possible.

At the beginning of this pandemic I actually got a little excited at the prospect of having more time to sit back, relax and read.

Well, I’ve had that time and it struck me today that I’ve barely read a thing.

It’s easy to trick ourselves into feeling like we don’t have the time to do the things we know we ought to be doing.

It’s harder, but far more valuable to seizing whatever time we can find and spend it instilling into ourselves the habits we must develop to facilitate those things.

If you’ve been letting yourself down, as I have, consider how you could spend just 20 minutes tomorrow to set yourself on the right track.

I know what I’ll be doing.

Once you begin to look for it, you’ll find parallelism everywhere in writing.

Structures balancing each-other delicately, ideas presented equally side-by-side; clauses that share similar openings, or perhaps those which share similar ends; and lists that don’t read like lists because of how smoothly they flow from point to point.

Parallelism creates consistency, inspires interest and signposts style.

Bibliotherapy is the prescribed reading of specific literature for thereputic purposes.

While it has only been defined this way for a short while, human beings have engaged in bibliotherapy for as long as we have physically recorded stories; ancient Greeks once called their libraries pharmacies containing ‘medicines for the soul’.

Bibliotherapy involves texts being prescribed at times when they may prove most thereputic to an individual, and they can prove useful in a variety of ways.

Some stories model growth, others inspire hope and some may offer nothing more than an unexpected but necessary lens through which to understand a situation.

Often, this process follows a regular formula: a person will go through a process of identification, as they realise that the text has some relevance to their own experience; followed by a sense of catharsis as the relationship between the literature and the reader develops into a meaningful exchange; and then insight. The reader walks away from their experience with some understanding they did not possess beforehard.

For someone who writes every day, my grammar is abysmal.

I only just picked up the Australian Style Manual for authors, editors and printers and, if I’m honest, it’s been a rude slap in the face.

I can’t say I agree with the idea that writers should use the tools at their disposal in uniform fashion. But I do believe that a dedication to understanding and honing those tools is essential.

In that regard, this book is a writer’s bible. Poignant at times, strangely pedantic at others, but necessary all the same.

If the mechanics or formalities of writing are at all of interest to you, I strongly reccomend picking it up.

If you go back just 25 years ago, plagiarism was hard work. One had to go to the library, find sources to copy from, retype those sources and then turn them in as their own. By the time one does all of that, they are a large part of the way to doing a non-plagiarized assignment so there was little benefit to risking punishment and shame.

Plagiarism isn’t necessarily about picking out the wheat from the chaff; it is about copying other peoples work without referencing or acknowledging it.

Whether it is Nick Simmons facing allegations of plagiarism in his comic book, plagiarism in crossword puzzles or accusations of plagiarism in photography, plagiarism is a problem in nearly every single field where creativity is valued.

You might think the one area of academia that would be safe from plagiarism is the research and discussion of plagiarism itself. You’d still be wrong.

In 2017, a paper published in Saudi Arabia on the factors leading to plagiarism, as well as suggested remedies, contained plagiarism. In 2015, an Indian paper presenting guidelines for plagiarism was retracted for, once again, plagiarism.

While such incidents are still very rare, especially when stacked up against other areas of research, even the research of plagiarism is not immune to plagiarism.


Incase it wasn’t obvious, I didn’t write a single word of the post above. The first paragraph was from a 2011 article from plagarismtoday.com, the second from an article by Zack Whittaker for iGeneration, and the closing paragraphs were plucked straight from a blog post on Turnitin’s website (the academic plagiarism checker my university uses).

Our ideas, once posted, are no longer safe. But when you’re giving them away, it’s hard to be bothered by anyone stealing them.

Language works in wonderful and mysterious ways. Idioms are responsible for a decent chunk of this wonder.

To someone just learning English, Bob’s your uncle means something very different to what we understand that it means.

In becoming an idiom, the phrase has come to mean something beyond the literal sum of it’s parts.

Idoms are shared through place, but also shift through generations.

We don’t use ‘spend a penny’ to describe taking a leak anymore because we don’t use pennies, nor do we pay to use public restrooms.

For those unfamiliar with the weight categories in fighting, punching above one’s weight might not be a naturally obvious phrase.

And unless you’ve lived out bush, it’s unlikely that you’d ever understand why a cup of tea which is too hot was brewed with short sticks (it’s because kindling on a fire generates more heat that embers or logs).

Take time to catalogue the idioms you know, and the ones you’re at risk of letting go if any certain person in your life were to hit the road.

Writers less creative than you have published books.

Producers less organised than you have made movies.

Entrepreneurs less intelligent than you have built million dollar businesses.

You are not the sum of all your parts.

You are the sum of how well you work. Not how hard, but how effectively.

Hey hey,

A little while ago I mentioned that I was preparing a book pitch and the first 5000 words of a creative non-fiction text. Today that draft was due.

7681 words, way too many hours of reading, and one mad scramble later, I’ve submitted it for my first round of formal feedback. But I felt I’d be remiss not to ask for your feedback too.

This is a link to the first draft. I have my own thoughts about what I like and what I think needs to change, but I don’t want to influence your read.

If you have the time and the inclination, I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have.

You can reach me via any of the usual means, but here is a link to an anonymous feedback form which you can use if you’d prefer.

Much love,

-Luke