2 Fast 2 Read

Book Cover: The Art of Slow Reading by Thomas Newkirk.
Image Source: https://www.slideshare.net/ChristineMSchmitt/the-art-of-slow-reading-presentation

I struggled with today’s blog post because I have so much to do, but I also have so much to talk about considering how many posts I’ve missed over the past few weeks while trying to catch up with school.

Right now, what’s worrying me is my Preliminary Exam on Oct. 25. The reading List for it is massive (over 100 books, plus Award winning journal articles, a list of several important articles in the field, and reading over several issues of major Rhetoric journals in the field, just to name a few. Last time I took the test, I got sick the week before and wasn’t able to put my best foot forward in terms of doing what I needed to do and structuring the essays (3 in a five (5) hour period) well enough to do as well as I wanted.

2 Fast Reader = 2 Little Information

So, how do you combat this? By being a quick reader, or more accurately, by skimming a lot of the material and remembering key points from the text. There are even students who don’t read the entire book, but are able to “B.S.” their way through based on summaries, abstracts, etc. (and here I’m speaking more about class than the Prelims, but it essentially works the same way).

My problem, as I’ve said before, is that when I read slowly, I retain much more of it for a longer time. The more I skim, the quicker I lose what I’m actually able to comprehend. The Preliminary Exam is a necessary step in the PhD process, but considering that I’m teaching, grading, taking a class (which means reading for the class and watching movies for the class), and generally surviving–paying bills, running errands, etc., it makes it incredibly difficult to go through the myriad of works that are asked of me by the exam.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race (or at least They’re Supposed To)

I’m much better when I get to read slowly and deeply. Right now, I’ve finished rereading 5-6 of my favorite novels just by reading a section (or chapter) or two at night. It depends on my mood: how late it is, how tired I am, what I have to do the next day, how early I need to get up, etc., but I usually average anywhere from 2-3 pages (the usual length of a section) to 10 -15 pages (usual length of a chapter). Over time, this really adds up.

I’ve tried to do this over the summer, but it has been difficult because academic reading requires a whole new set of muscles. To read academically, you have to stop and look for key terms and key points, you have read and engage with the text (usually with a highlighter or by underlining) which adds additional time. Then you also have to untangle the turgid writing of many scholars–again, scholars are in love with the language and many scholars seem to subscribe to the idea that being obtuse is the mark of “smart” person. Many arguments are so dense and the writing so turgid, that it takes so much more effort to untangle their meaning than it does for popular work, so slow and steady means double (sometimes triple) the time and even getting up early to read means that it may take two or three days to unravel a 25-30 page journal article, much less a 250-300 page academic work.

All this means that while I’ve read and been attentive to reading, I’ve read far less than I’m comfortable with for the test given that I really need to pass the test.

The Prelims favor one of two people: 1) those who can read fast (skim) and retain it or 2) those who have massive amounts of time and far fewer responsibilities in order maximize their time for reading. Neither of those are me: in the past two weeks, I have researched and done a presentation and spent the time grading (daily work & Project Proposals). Arrgh!

I can only hope that I might be able to do well on the test by having read the “right” things, but I’m still concerned with 3 weeks to go that I’ve spent far too much time on grading and teaching and not enough on reading for the Prelims–which is not a situation that I wanted to find myself in. Again. Snarf!

Well, thanks for listening to my rambling on about school–have a great day!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

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4 Days = 4 Chapters (Reading)

Word Cloud for Multimodal texts: Multimodal, learn, student, texts, create, words, knowledge, language, ideas, develop
Image Source: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/digital-writing-portfolio1/concept-2

So, I don’t have lot of time today, so this post will be on the shorter side. I didn’t get a chance to blog yesterday because I don’t have internet at my apartment anymore and since it rained and downpoured most of yesterday, I decided not to get out in the mucky weather since I didn’t have to do so.

Multimodal Composition: A Sourcebook by Claire Lutkewitte

I’m reading/rereading a book that I was given to help me with my Prelim exam–more on that at another date. The book in question is Claire Lutkewitte’s Multimodal Composition. Some of you with eagle eyes or elephant’s memories may notice that this book has been in my “currently reading” section down on the side of the blog for a long while now. I haven’t forgotten about that “widget,” but since I rarely log in to Goodreads nowadays (I just don’t have the time), I don’t really get a chance to update it like I should. Well, I told myself that once summer started, I would read a chapter a day from the books on the reading lists in order to be ready for the next preliminary exam and dissertation and so far, I’ve stuck to that plan. I’ve read 4 chapters from the book and will start on Chapter 5 on Monday. As there are 29 chapters total, I will be reading this book through the most of May.

Reading and Writing: Summer Edition

There are, of course a number of things that I want to read/write over the summer. I won’t take the time to enumerate them here, but as I start on them (and most importantly, finish them), I will most definitely list them here and do a small blog post about them. There are a ton of things that I hope to accomplish over the summer, but I know that if I start talking about them, so how they won’t get done, so it will probably be better for me to wait and talk about them once I’m deep into them, like I am with Claire Lutkewitte’s book. I need to remember what works for me, which is starting small and then working my way up to bigger and more extensive projects. Finishing a book may seem hard, but at a chapter a day, well, that’s not quite as hard and who knows, if I have extra time on the weekend, I may be able to squeeze out an extra chapter or two, meaning that I can finish sooner, and if not, then I’m still on schedule to finish by the end of the month. So my goal for this summer = break down as many projects as I can into smaller chunks and get as much down as possible (while still enjoying the summer sun)!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

Reading Fast and Slow & Writing Fast and Slow

https://litreactor.com/columns/fast-draft-hell-7-lessons-i-learned-almost-writing-a-novel-in-14-days

In some instances, I’m a very fast reader and in other instances, I’m a very slow reader. This also pertains to my writing in many ways to my writing. I’m trying to be more consistent in all areas, but I’ve noticed these two traits for a while.

Reading Fast and Slow

I read fiction much, much faster than I read non-fiction. I read quite a bit of non-fiction, but I don’t read it nearly as fast as I fiction. I think it has to do with the “mental stomp” that I use when I read non-fiction. The term “mental stomp” is from one of my favorite books as a kid, So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane. Nita, the protagonist of the books, uses this “mental stomp” to impress facts upon her mind when she wants to learn something. For me, non-fiction books mean learning, and it is very hard for me to retain information if I just skim the book (which is what a lot of grad students do in order to get through a ton of reading quickly). I can’t do that and its hurting me as I prepare for my upcoming Preliminary Exams. I have to read through the material or else I don’t really retain the information. However, as long as I’m engaged with the book, I can “zoom” through a novel. I routinely read Epic Fantasy (which is sometimes called “Doorstopper Novels” because they are generally so large and heavy that their weight is enough to stop a door from closing). I can routinely read a thousand page novel in under two weeks–and that’s pacing myself. However, I find that my bookshelf is piling up with unread books because of all the reading I have to do for class which leaves little time for reading other works.

Writing Fast and Slow

I tend to be exactly the opposite when writing. I’m a fairly fast writer when I’m writing essays for school, but I tend to be much, much slower, when I’m writing creatively (fiction). I’m not sure why, although I suspect it has something to do with the way my brain processes images. I can “see” the picture of the image in my mind and I’m looking for words to replicate the image that I see. In essays, however, once I have a structure (i.e., thesis and method of explaining that thesis), I “golden.” My mind just fills in the words and sources to explain my ideas. Much like a camera, however, my mind wants to use words to completely capture the scene in my mind for fiction, which often leads me to be far more detailed, in some stories, than I really need to be in most cases. However, even at my fastest, while I’m a touch typist, I still don’t type as fast as I think, so a lot of my issues with writing are the method of input. I don’t really dictate well, and long-hand is great for notes, or jotting down rough drafts where I’m just “sketching out” the action, so the keyboard still remains the best way of writing for me. Even at my best speed, I can only manage about 35-40 words per minute, probably less when you factor in mis-keying and correcting errors, so I probably average about 30 words a minute (which is on the low side for touch typists who can hit anywhere from 50-100 words per minute with training–I think my fingers are too long to be as nimble as they should, but that’s just a supposition on my part).

Anyway, this blog entry was more just establish the fact that sometimes I read really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why) and sometimes I write really quickly and sometimes I don’t (& why). I hope it was at least a little bit interesting. Have a great day!

Sidney

Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Starlight, Starbright (Sci-Fi Short-Story — 2nd Draft — “Opening Incident” (2/5 sections)
  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

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