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The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. — Aristotle

The problem with education today is that praxis, the hands-on, the actual practice, is often ignored in the classroom, especially in higher education. Instead, we embrace theories in the classroom, and not much more, over praxis. If institutions of higher learning want to remain relevant, they will need to bring praxis back into the fold.

I am reminded of a recent conversation with someone close to me who has experienced the decline of higher education in the United States. He mentioned a coworker, who had several IT certificates from a reputable college, was unable to fashion and/or troubleshoot basic ethernet cables. The person I talked with works in wireless networking, particularly wireless Internet service. This is one of many examples where our educational systems are failing those who are going out into the larger world outside of academia. …


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The tyranny of the novel must be overthrown before you start writing your Web serial.

I love novels.

Who doesn’t?

Novels are a personal favorite of mine as far as a writing medium is concerned. However, the tyranny of the novel often causes problems when one tries to write a Web serial. Web serials aren’t novels in their structure, nor are they chopped up and neatly packaged crypto-novels. Instead, Web serials are an entirely different beast — excuse the cliche, I’ve had way too much coffee today.

The tyranny that comes with the novel’s architecture cannot be understated. The novel’s structure, its coherence, and its need to keep things in neat little packages make for terrible Web serials. If you’ve read good Web serials, you know that writers must break away from the novel, in order to engage readers and offer them an experience similar but not quite like that of the novel. …


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The idea of binge reading is nothing new — not exactly.

In fact, the first serialized novels, by people like Dickens, were binge read. With the advent of cheap(ish) e-readers, readers were thought to be the next big thing when it came to binge-worthy consumption. However, what the big companies, like Amazon, and not so big companies, too many to mention here, forgot is that readings must be tailored for such binge-worthy sessions.

The problem that I’ve found in writing Web serials is that writers, myself included, try to mirror the novel far too much. In fact, they should be doing the opposite. They should be mirroring the plethora, the beautiful bounty, the rough-edges that come with having thirteen seasons of XYZ Show on Netflix or Amazon Prime or even Hulu. The novel just isn’t suited for the binge-worthy consumption that readers are supposedly looking for. In fact, novels aren’t serials, per se. Instead, they are what they are: novels. Novels depend on internal consistency (for the most part), a coherent(ish) structure from A to Zed, and so on. …


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The spread of inexpensive technologies, particularly hardware and software packages, have created the conditions of possibility for an information-based civil war in the United States. It sounds nonsensical, but is it? The us versus them mentality has a deep-rooted history in the United States, stretching back to the country’s founding. (Just look to the U.S. Declaration of Independence if you don’t believe me.) In heterogeneous nation-states like the U.S., new developments in computer and information technology, could lead to serious internal conflicts, if left unchecked.

He [the king] has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. –U.S. …


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Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

I remember when I was an undergraduate an instructor told me that democracy is like building a house where every nail has a say in how affairs should be conducted. Truly challenging group projects, unlike what detractors suggest, are the lifeblood of the democratic processes that institutions of higher learning are supposed to expose students to. In fact, collective action is the single hardest thing to accomplish, and, in a quasi-democracy like ours in the U.S., group projects, at the collegiate level, could foster the traits we expect younger students to have going into the political realm.

The problem that I often face with challenging group projects comes from the resistance by faculty members and students. Faculty members see such endeavors as extra work. They also see it as a lazier way of teaching, oddly enough. Students, on the other hand, see group projects in a rather problematic light: few people actually contribute, it’s a waste of time, and, for some working-class students, it is an undue burden placed on the shoulders of students, who have full-time work outside of school. …


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The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it. — Karl Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach” (1845)

Graduate school is probably not the best time to be figuring out your political identity. You have far too many papers to write. Too many projects to complete. Bureaucratic machinations are looking to snuff you out. And, you have those oh-so-special instructors looking to get rid of your ass, because you’ve upset their life’s balance.

I applied for graduate school much in the way a slacker does. I didn’t have a plan. All I knew was that I wanted to write, and I wanted to get some serious writing in while I still could do so. I figured graduate school was the best route for such endeavors, so I applied to my alma mater’s graduate program in English literature — and, boy, was that an experience. …


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She [Patricia Highsmith] went on to recommend that aspiring writers keep a notebook in which to jot down thoughts or ideas, that they should trust in the power of the unconscious and that they shouldn’t force inspiration. –Andrew Wilson, Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith (2003)

“You’re wasting fuckin’ paper, kid!”


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Picture of an Outline/Zero Draft by G. Michael Rapp (2019)

Hemingway is said to have articulated that the first draft of anything is shit.

When it comes to our notions of drafting, especially among indie authors, we need to reconsider the value that drafting has on the writing and creation processes. We need to reconsider the drafting processes, because indie authors often focus on production, quantity, over the creation of quality. This isn’t helped by the “publish or perish” mantra that dominates the entire publishing industry, from the heavy hitters all the way down to the self-published indies publishing on Draft2Digital and tweens writing on Wattpad.

I have recently embarked on a journey to draft more, in order to spend less time on throwing out entire projects or giving up on writing entirely. I have killed more trees than I would like to admit, all in the pursuit of crafting something special and something perfect. In other words, I spent much of my writing life spinning my wheels, going nowhere fast or meaningful. …


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Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Unsplash

Serialized fiction has a long, and, if we’re completely honest, a romantic history that attracts a lot of newbie writers to the writing format. However, what most writers forget is that serialized fiction doesn’t always translate well into other writing formats: such as the novella, the novel, or even the short story sequence. In fact, serialization lends itself to serialization. Don’t believe me? Fine. For those willing to take a chance on this assertion, keep on reading below.

Serialization is a unique creature. When reading Victorian novels, and even pre-Victorian novels, we can understand the importance serialization had on the form and the content. However, it begs the question: Does serialization translate into proper books like novels? Probably not. Here’s the reason why. Serialization is about hooking the readers with each new installment. It’s about getting readers to want to turn the page and it’s about them wanting the next installment. It’s sort of like watching a weekly or monthly television show. Novels don’t necessarily need to hook the readers at the beginning of each chapter — although they probably should. Moreover, novels don’t necessarily need cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, in order to build tension within the readers — again, they probably should, but this isn’t always necessary. All in all, serials rely on gauging the audience actively, and they rely on the author to make sound decisions when it comes to plotting. In other words, the serial writer must have his/her finger on the pulse of the readership. …


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Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

We don’t turn to story to escape reality. We turn to story to navigate reality. — Lisa Cron, Story Genius (2016)

Narrative imagining — story — is the fundamental instrument of thought. Rational capacities depend upon it. It is our chief means of looking into the future, or predicting, of planning, and of explaining. — Mark Turner

Let’s admit it. The war between genre and literary fiction has claimed a good number of casualties, soaked up a good bit of ink, paper, and bandwidth, and, if we’re honest, wasted a good deal of time. It is time for reconciliation — like any war-torn community. Although literary lost the war and genre, with its massive war chest, won the largely asymmetric conflict, we still see in college classrooms, in the occasional Facebook or Twitter following, the call to keep these two concerns separate. …

About

G. Michael Rapp

I’m no longer on Medium. Find me at backtotheholodeck.com.

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