Writer’s Hurdles

I’m trying to get started on the actual composition of the technology and religion article, which estimable goal has been obstructed not only by the usual blank-page syndrome, but also by two particular problems specific to this task.

On one hand, I want to treat the questions in terms concrete enough to keep most readers engaged. I’m writing not only for those first-year college students whom I can count on staying with a highly-abstract meditation on technology, but also for less patient readers. Still, the concrete examples of technology about which I write today may strike readers two years hence (when the published book actually “drops”) as lame, if not utterly outmoded. Academic treatments of digitally-mediated interaction frequently emphasize MUDs — as though Usenet, email, instant messaging, online RPGs, and so on (I’m being fair, and not expecting academicians to have anticipated the expansion of MMRPGs or online environments such as Second Life) — whereas very few of my students, even the older ones, have the slightest experience with good ol’ MUDs. So impediment Number One involves attaining an effective degree and quality of particular examples.

Impediment Number Two involves the opening, which (as my Writing Group colleagues will affirm) triggers such strong expectations from a reader that a good first paragraph or two can determine how carefully and sympathetically the audience considers the rest of the essay. I expect to use some narrative examples in the body of the chapter, but I’m leery of opening with an anecdote (especially an anecdote with a startling twist! at the end). So I’m fretting about how to sucker a wide range of college-level readers to pay attention to some challenging provocation in the pages that follow. Plus, of course, I must without question use my opening paragraph or two to prepare the audience for the direction and conclusion that the chapter will take.

Now, back to actually trying to do it, rather than simply blogging about it.

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