For a man who loved nature, I find it intriguing that Thoreau mentions his house more frequently than he does nature. I do believe that he took great pride in the structure that he not only build but also lived in for many months. I also think that this is not necessarily a true representation of how much Thoreau talks about nature, for one can talk about something without explicitly naming it. In looking at words used to describe nature, or things that are found in nature, it is clear that nature really is spoken about more often than the house is.
I am curious as to if this is a common method of Thoreau’s writing: discussing something, like nature, using both its name and its components with similar frequencies. I have found in past reading that the author will tend to either rarely name the actual object of discussion to avoid redundancy and use its components or ideas within it to talk about it or will repeat the topic name often using a variety of descriptors, rarely repeating one or another. Additionally, in comparing ‘house’ and ‘nature’, the former is more of a concrete concept than the latter. So I wonder if Thoreau finds it necessary to define the more abstract with concrete things like trees and animals. Perhaps this is a theme of his writing but that would require an analysis of other concept pairings across his works.
Thoreau was clearly an intelligent individual. However, I have to wonder what brought him enjoyment. He hardly uses the word in Walden and barely makes use of its synonyms. (He doesn’t use the word ‘fun’ once.) It is difficult to determine a correlation between amusement and companionship or a lack thereof. I think it would be interesting to explore some of his other works to see if he truly requires solitude to enjoy himself or if he just prefers it to spending time with people. I am in no way trying to suggest that he does not know how to have fun with other people; merely that he more frequently enjoys himself when people are not around.
Despite the apparent lack of amusement, it is highly likely that Thoreau had a positive outlook on life. His discussions and evaluations of the world around him reflect a deep passion for nature as seen in Spring. Perhaps his enjoyment is described in ways in which are not obvious to the untrained eye and are similar to his discussions of nature: defined without being named explicitly.
I write reluctantly. I am perfectly capable of writing, but I don’t particularly find any joy in it. If I am required to write about a specific topic, especially one that I dislike, then I am much less likely to care about what I write. The resulting composition isn’t read over or edited so bummer if there’s a typo or an extra word somewhere. If I am given a choice as to my topic, then perhaps I will put some effort into it. I might even go so far as to make an outline. gasp However, there are these crazy moments in which I am completely possessed and actually revise what I write. I hear you- she must be crazy. While that may be true, really I care about how I come off to the reader.
These revised works tend to fall into the category of creative writing. Literatures pieces such as these require a bit of vulnerability on my part. Questions of “what will they think of me? what if they don’t like what I wrote? can I deal with their responses?” often pop up in the back of my head. Thus I do a lot of writing and deleting and writing and deleting. The worst cases of this are Facebook posts. I have a wide variety of people who will see my posts which makes writing them a bit more challenging. Often I will write out a post then completely scrap it and start fresh. I have developed the habit of running it by my mom before posting as she is a far better writer than I am.
As far as the specifics of my revising habits, I am very much an all-or-nothing type person in my writing. I either write something brilliant or complete trash. In the first case, I may have someone else read it over and tweak it a little. For the latter, the whole thing is trashed and I start over again. If I have a good idea then I may recycle it but will most definitely rework how it is presented. I usually type up my writing as it is faster and far easier to erase. Speaking of which, I should probably delete this and start again. Oh, wait. I already did.
Books have always been my getaway. My safe place if you will. I have never really enjoyed reading books for school because it required that I slow down and actually think about what I was reading. I like watching the movie that plays in my head while I am reading. It is hardly enjoyable to pause the movie every 30 seconds to take notes. Hence I mostly audibly annotate. I do the same thing with my math homework. If I have a question about something, then I will just ask it. Or yell at the words in front of me. Of course, no one will answer and I will probably forget that I asked it. However, reading is a conversation between characters and the omnipresent reader. Thus it is important that the reader responds to the events. I simply don’t have the patience to write it down before moving on to what happens next.
I don’t like writing in books for the same reason that I strongly dislike it when people dog-ear pages (especially in books that don’t belong to them). I find it distracting and detrimental to the longevity of the story that lies within the binding. I would rather have a book that is falling apart with all of the pages intact. A book missing pages or having words that cannot be read is worse than having no book at all. But a book with a broken binding has been loved. That being said, I did render my copy of Hamlet quite difficult to read in some parts with the abundance of annotations within it. And the colors of the annotations.
I tend to color code everything. Including my annotations. I prefer pen because it won’t rub off the page and there are many more color options for it. If I use many colors, then I include a key somewhere as to what everything means. As far as content goes, I don’t usually annotate for me. So I tailor what I write to my intended audience. If it will be seen by my peers, I will steer towards the stereotypical expectations for annotations. For teachers, I try to come off as more insightful making connections across different forms of media or even within the text itself. If it is just for me, then the page will likely be blank. I will either go back and take separate notes or put post-it notes in. Color-coded based on their reason for being on the page of course.
We have reached a point where technology is preferred over paper. But I have to say that there is nothing like the feeling of a book in my hands. There is also a sense of connection that comes from actually holding the characters, their choices and the consequences of those choices in your hands. Like the Portkeys in the Harry Potter books, you aren’t going anywhere unless you are touching it ;D