SQ #23--Writing Question/Resources?

Summer Quandaries #23
Aug 23—38 Days to camp

Writing Question/Resources?

The mailbag entry today reminded me of one of the most thought provoking questions I have been asked. One fellow blogger wanted to know how long it took me to write one of my articles and what resources I typically used. Things I write on are occasionally the products of suggestions but more typically it is something that has flitted through my mind and wouldn’t stay banished. At some point the little gray cells get so provoked that I go in search of data to support my suspicions. To this end I have several sets of browser tabs that are, and usually stay, open during the off season.

It is a sad day that FLCeltsFan hasn’t gathered the Daily Links. It is an odd occurrence if I don’t have several phrases/thoughts/questions jotted down after I delve into the articles whose titles pique my interest. Not too often are my notes about the subject of the article. My mind seems to run more to tangential thought, some would argue
skew rather than tangential. I once had a particularly lazy and malevolent prof in graduate school who taught Design and Statistics. All his test were multiple choice—easy to grade and without a single clue in the phrasing of a question or group of options for an answer. Now these exams were the source of considerable consternation to our class because while you could usually construct a path back to the matching item, it was seldom direct and almost always could just have easily been associated with one or more others of the second list. Finally one of my office mates came up with an explanation that made perfect sense to all of us. The professor made list 1 and then made a list 2 of matches, then he took list 2 and made a list 3 of matches for list 2, then he threw away list 2 and used one and three for the test. My notes work kind of like this. Before and again after the articles of the day I work my way through several blogs and forums. Once again a list of seminal ideas, usually not the subject but more frequently an off hand idea or comment buried in a wandering paragraph or divergent comment. I must admit that just as many column ideas come from something I run across with which I, often vehemently, disagree.

As for the resources, I keep CelticsLife, CelticsBlog, CelticsHub, and Red’sArmy open every day. The forums from CelticsBlog and CelticsGreen stay open too. Also almost everything I write will have employed a number of research sites. In all honesty I have a hard time believing anyone could write something worthwhile without delving into several of these resources, but then I have a pretty low opinion of the general quality of sports articles that are produced in such volume and with apparently so little thought or effort. My constant research tabs include salary (Shamsports and a Google spreadsheet http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=0AodNvAy3ZYZmdGk5cXZIS2c0cHowVlhoY29mVkR3SXc&gid=4), rosters and depth charts (again ShamSports), player profiles (SBNation and DraftExpress), draft prospect/picks (again DraftExpress), rumours (InsideHoops and HoopsHype), and free agent trackers (sports.yahoo and HoopsWorld). Of all these, only one is not a tab that has been open for the past week (since the last reboot).  As with almost all my columns, this one required a Google search for accuracy—I suspect you can guess just what.

As for time commitment, it is unusual to spend less than two or three hours, often much of a day, and I prefer to write it and then let it sit for half a day before returning to it. On second read I often catch wandering or misplaced thoughts—if I can’t easily follow it (actually it should flow) then I’ve failed the sniff test and the piece needs reworking. My spelling comes and goes and while I value the spell and grammar checker, it fails to catch malapropisms and many common dunderheaded mistakes like fore/four, complement/compliment, and hymn/him. It also continues to insist that Magic and Thunder are neither capitalized nor are they plural.

I think perhaps that there is no form of communication more time/stale sensitive than sports columns, although women would probably argue that saying/not-saying “I Love You” dies on the table even faster. I find the hip-shooter sports commentators on the web often remind me of David Niven’s quip at the Academy Awards when a streaker dashed across the stage, "Isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?" I’m sorry if you dove into this column hoping to mine a few insightful nuggets about the Celtics, but if you made it this far I hope you were entertained, and perhaps discovered something of use.