With every re-launch comes the faux-obligatory intro: it’s a new direction, a different person, and a renewed hope in holding out. Here’s my piece, complete with the About Page add-ons. Do leave a message, I’d love to get to know you!
I’m Jessica, a writer and Maths-turned Economics student at the University of Cambridge. Fresh off my first job and the realisations that go with it, I restarted this blog as ‘Into Work and the Word’ to commit to writing, to confront my fear of failure, and to convince myself that blogging isn’t that scary. (Is it?)
I hope to write about my experience as young Christian finding my way in the world: through studying in college, grappling with vocation / calling (work), navigating through first jobs from internships to freelancing to entrepreneurship, and scrambling to deal with whatever comes up in my daily walk with God. There will also be much poetry.
‘Into Work and the Word’ thus refers to going into work while immersing oneself in the Word of God (and working at the craft of writing, if you like). I do not intend this blog to be exclusively for a Christian audience, and hope that you will enjoy reading these posts regardless of your faith.
Even more about this blog: This blog (b. 2009) has gone through many phases of being put down and picked up again. It started as a general outlet, became a sparsely curated poetry blog, and then tried to be a thought outlet but failed several times because I couldn’t be sure it was a non-obnoxious thing to do. And I really didn’t want to be seen as obnoxious. The turning point to blog my thoughts (Week of 7 June, 2015) came when our pastor highlighted Psalm 40 (quoted is verse 3):
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
With this I realised that we are all given a voice, and we should use it to do what is good – i.e. to glorify God. In writing my voice is at its most sincere, and since I’ve been writing a lot anyway, I thought it would be good to blog as well. With that, I pray that you will be blessed by these posts.
A few sources of inspiration:
The Bible: God’s Word, the truth, beautiful beyond measure. Speaks for itself.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
Annoying Precision – Qiaochu Yuan’s notes on blogging as a way to learn first prompted me to record my learning experiences in Evernote, and I hope to bring some notes that may benefit from discussion here in future.
Gowers’s Weblog – showed me how one mathematician thinks, written with beautiful clarity.
There are many people I could mention here, but I don’t have their permission so I’d rather not.
I looked out to the quiet night
and thought I saw the One
But Nature did turn on the light
and lo! my love was gone.
The same way does the tick of Time
unveil the ugly Truth
Yet Love prevails above all odds
That is, if it is pure.
A poem from 2012. ‘This one was inspired by an entry in ‘Emotions’ from the book ‘Why the Toast Always Lands Butter Side Down – the Science of Murphy’s Law’ by Richard Robinson. This book tries to provide a rational explanation of the more trivial – or not so trivial – things in life.’
‘As a writer you should not judge. You should understand. … You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice.’
It begins with a trill of the mind, of the finger,
Getting up, sitting down, getting up, walking out
Walking back, sitting down, getting up, trilling continues
Sitting down, shrill fast-forward, getting up, finger taps
On the keyboard, on the table, on the forehead, on the keyboard,
Forming a rhythm that I can’t get out out out of
Like a chipmunk going slower, bashing its head on an acorn
Quick succession of short blips, flips, trips, jitters –
I guess it’s what people call coffee.
Even though I’ve been continuously bleeding thoughts into Evernote and my crinkly unlined journal, I’ve not shown anyone any of my writing. That means it’s often sloppy, and I don’t revise my work. Any thoughts of revision involve revising it later, which has not yet happened for any of my 1000+ digital diary entries, let alone the ones on paper. I’ve been editing this entry for almost an hour. The one piece I did publish (my testimony, which was only posted on Facebook and included in a booklet to a small group of friends) I revised every day for two weeks. It would’ve been longer, but that was all the time I was given. When formally writing for CoCoon HK and when writing marketing copy, I spend hours anxiously revising emails and interviews like a mad squirrel. Help!
My point? Revision is great, but it takes some getting used to. I bought a copy of ‘The Elements of Style’ for a friend this week, and took the opportunity to re-read a few pages. The differences between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ examples were shocking, and gives a taste of what careful revision can do.
Try to read Orwell’s deliberately drained translation of Ecclesiastes 9:11:
Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels this conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must inevitably be taken into account.
Compare that to the original (King James Version):
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all.
(No words can describe this.) You don’t even have to add specificity or vividness to improve a message. By changing a few words,
Applicants can make a good impression by being neat and punctual.
is transformed into
Applicants will make a good impression if they are neat and punctual.
How beautiful is the gift of clear, living language! Here’s to writing and revising better every day.