kate_nepveu: scales of justice, carved in bronze (scales of justice)

As everyone has said, California's highest court today ruled that "the designation of marriage" must be made "available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples." I am so happy about this, though my happiness must pale besides that of those more directly affected by the decision.

That decision, by the way, is 172 pages: 121 pages of majority opinion (including 73 footnotes), 40 pages of concurring and dissenting opinions, and 11 pages of administrative stuff (PDF, 500KB). I've only had time to skim the majority opinion (and I am, alas, not the sharpest knife in the drawer at the moment thanks to sleep deprivation), but the only word that comes to mind is "exhaustive." Which—to go off on a tangent—interests me, because there are several different potential audiences for all this exhaustive discourse, and talking to multiple audiences is a tough thing to do.

legal natter )

Have any of the non-lawyers here ventured into the decision itself? What did you think?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Besides picking carpet for the new library and making appointments for HVAC maintenance and tax preparation (exciting, I know), the concrete parts of last week were mostly FutureBaby stuff (daycare visits with religious digression; echocardiogram) )

All these ultrasounds do make me wonder how difficult it was to get medical ultrasounds started, because many of what the doctors and techs call really clear pictures are, to me, grainy blurry blobs. Obviously medical science knew a good deal about anatomy, but it would have no way of telling how any given heart was constructed and thus what, precisely, an ultrasound of said heart was showing—right? And the 2D view of a 3D thing is so odd, especially when the depth changes with a little shift of the wand . . . anyway, learning how to read ultrasounds must've been an interesting process.

* * *

Between the workshop earlier in the month and the brief I drafted after I got back, I've been thinking more than usual about my writing process. There's generally a point when everything suddenly falls into place and the whole case crystallizes into a couple of sentences—which almost always comes later than I'd like [*], but from there, writing is easy (or, at least, no longer like pulling teeth).

Thing is, I think of this as "breaking the back of the case," which I picked up unconsciously from David Henry Hwang's afterword to M. Butterfly. Which is a pretty nasty metaphor, and not that accurate for me either, but it seems to have stuck. Do you all have different metaphors? Does this happen to you when you're writing nonfiction? Fiction?

[*] I wish I could consciously monitor this process, and could therefore determine how much of the time leading up to this moment is actually needed and how much is just plain old procrastination. I'm planning to experiment with consciously shifting my focus from one thing to another, to see if my backbrain will process things in parallel.

* * *

Since I was in the office on Sunday, I took pictures, because I find people's work spaces interesting (also I never got around to posting the ones I took earlier and things have changed slightly since):

eight pictures and more detail than reasonable )

Anyone else want to post pictures of their workspaces?

* * *

Finally, a few links:

Oh, okay, really finally: we got forty minutes into Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal on Saturday night before turning it off. Even if we'd realized that it was an OVA edited into a movie, rather than a series, it was violent and choppy and just not what we were in the mood for after a nice dinner to celebrate the good news about FutureBaby.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

I see interesting posts (sartorias, papersky) about what writers owe readers on the reading list. That question I have to think about some more (helllllo, really long weekend!), but in thinking about it, I'm struck by the distinction some people are making between what the writer owes the reader and what the writer owes the story.

What is the difference?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Another sucky week here at Chateau Steelypips, so let's talk about writing instead.

Apparently "ten things I know about writing" is going around as a meme. I'm not doing ten, because this is a specific list: ways that writing a legal brief is like writing a work of fiction, as noticed by me in the last couple of weeks.

  1. Reader expectations.

    You must know what your readers expect from you, at pretty much every level of the work—from the way a sentence will proceed, to the way that sections fit together, to the way the work will end. In fiction, you can violate those expectations, but you must know what you're doing so you can make it worth it. In legal writing, violating reader expectations is not recommended, because the consequences of annoying your readers are rather different.

    This struck my attention when, on the same day, [livejournal.com profile] alg had a "demystifying publishing" post on genre, and I asked for feedback on how suitable a draft brief was for a new-to-me audience.

  2. "Said" words.

    In fiction, "said" is invisible as a dialogue tag.

    When I got back a draft that replaced every "the court stated" with "the court said," I realized that the same rule applies to non-fiction.

  3. "I've suffered for my research, and now you must too."

    Yes, you did several boatloads of research before starting to write. Yes, you're proud of all the nuances and variations you now comprehend fully. Yes, it was important to have as complete a map as possible of the landscape before starting, because you can't know what path you're going to take without a map.

    But once you've picked your path, most of that information becomes entirely superfluous. And you don't get points for including superfluous information, no matter how hard-won it was.

  4. Other sets of eyes.

    People who will keep you from inflicting violated expectations, said-isms, and too much research on your readers? Priceless.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

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