On Writing Academic Papers

As you guys probably know since I won’t shut up about it, I am a member of The Writer’s Block. I love writing fiction, and I’ve done my fair share of opinion pieces here on Steemit. I love to write. But when it comes to academic work, boy is it another universe entirely.

Writing political opinion pieces is simple enough. Start with a premise, offer the facts that you want to apply your premise to, and then draw the conclusion. There’s plenty of sub-arguments within the span of your main argument, such as making the case why a term should be defined one way as opposed to another, or establishing that part of your premise is true because X, Y, and Z. But ultimately, it’s just a giant syllogism: A is C. B has all the qualities of A. Therefore, B is C.

For rigorous academic writing, the kind that you publish in journals, it’s significantly deeper than that. All the same rules for making an effective argument are still there, but, to put it how my jurisprudence teacher puts it, “no one wants to know what you think.” For legal writing, you need to cite every assertion you make that isn’t your own, and you are not expected to make any assertions yourself outside of your premise and your conclusion. Most of my opinion pieces are based in logical reasoning, to avoid citing to authority and thus undermining the strength of my argument on its own. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury here.

It’s also a different style of writing. In fiction writing, it’s important to show, not tell. Academic writing is the exact opposite. Illustrative facts are really just facts recited from other sources that support your premise. That’s it. Aside from a clever hook at the beginning of a law review article, the roadmap, and the conclusion, everything else is recitation of evidence that supports your premise. Prose doesn’t have much of a place here.

While it is rewarding to make a well-documented piece of work, I’m less enthusiastic about it than good ol’ writing from the hip.

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Adventure Time Has Come to an End

Image courtesy of EskiPaper.com

Come along with me
And the butterflies and bees
We can wander through the forest
And do so as we please.

It’s over folks. Adventure Time has finally come to a close after nearly a decade of wacky fun and surprisingly deep storytelling.

My girlfriend watched Adventure Time from the moment it first premiered in 2010, and we sat and watched the final episode together tonight. I just recently sat down and started watching it with her, and over the last month, I’ve gone from season one all the way to the end. It didn’t hit me quite as hard as it hit her, but I have to say I am really, really sad it’s gone.

For the longest time, I never gave this show a shot. It came on Cartoon Network around the same time I stopped watching cartoons. I lumped it in with other wacky shows that seemed superficially without any kind of story or cohesion, so I wrote it off. Then, as fate would have it, I met an incredible woman, and she introduced me to the show.

I was really surprised by just how much world building and storytelling the writers packed into the show. Sure, there are plenty of episodes that are just that: episodes. They’re not directly connected to the overarching story. However, the overarching story is amazing, and it seeps into every part of the show. Despite its childlike style and bizarre setting, it’s full of deeply serious subject matter and a haunting backstory. Makes me think of something a child would draw after experiencing years of chaos, trying his best to get back to normal.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it follows a 13-year-old boy named Finn and his dog, Jake. Finn is, as far as he knows, the last human in the world, which was ravaged by a devastating nuclear and biological war a thousand years prior known as the Great Mushroom War. His dog Jake not only talks but stretches to ridiculous lengths and virtually whatever shape he wants to. And he’s got a hell of a sense of humor. All this is set in the backdrop of the Land of Ooo, what remains of the old world now populated by talking animals, sapient candy, a deranged wizard named the Ice King, and all manner of strange and crazy creatures.

The show follows Finn and Jake, but it’s full of contemplation on any number of deep themes. Ice King’s backstory is a strikingly compelling look at what dealing with a loved one suffering from mental illness can be like. Marceline, the Vampire Queen, is a study in emotional struggle. Princess Bubblegum illustrates the danger of being obsessed with your work at the expense of all emotional attachment. There are episodes that consider the character’s own mortality and the meaning of family. Meaning-of-life-and-the-universe stuff, man.

Aside from it being a genuinely entertaining show, as a writer I really appreciate the subtlety that’s employed to weave all of these stories together. Things like the Great Mushroom War are mentioned from time to time, but you’d have to watch the entire show to really appreciate the level of detail dedicated to it. Same goes with a character as zany and ridiculous as the Ice King. At first glance, he’s a crazy old wizard who serves as a comically evil foil for our protagonists. Keep watching the show and you discover a truly tragic story that makes you root for him, and it ties it back to the cataclysm that ended our world. There’s a deep, rich world behind the Land of Ooo that you appreciate more with every episode.

If you haven’t ever watched it, I strongly recommend hopping on Hulu and binging it. It’s fun, it’s hilarious, but most of all, it’s a rewarding story that I absolutely love.

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Love Letter to My Beloved

Image courtesy of my wonderful girlfriend and my beautiful daughter

To My Darling:

I love you. Truly, I do. You uprooted your life and came thousands of miles to start a new one with me. I can’t think of a more forceful and meaningful display of dedication than that. It’s humbling, and I constantly wonder if I’m even worthy of that kind of devotion from such a wonderful woman.

You’re the light of my life. You fill my days with happiness, even when we’re having a slow day or we’ve had a dozen things go wrong that day. You warm my heart every morning when I wake up, and we curl up together with each other every night. I love it. I makes me happy beyond words to have you here, sharing every day together. You’ve filled a hole in my I didn’t think I could fill.

Your wit and humor make me smile. You get me, and we get to laugh about the strangest, most absurd jokes. Things that no one else would ever understand. Things that, frankly, would make other people question our sanity. Not you though; you love the same strange, twisted things I do. You’ve seen the darkest parts of me, and you embraced them all the same.

I love you with all my heart. We’re going to have a wonderful life together.

Yours forever,

Your One and Only

What the Hell Do I Write About?

I’ll be honest with you guys. I have no idea what to post about.

I started law school in August of 2017, and I was swamped. I’ve never been that busy in my life, and I spent four years in the 82nd Airborne, where being busy was a fact of life. Coupled with the fact that I’d divorced my wife of five years a couple of months prior, and you can imagine how messed up I was in the head. Law school swallowed me whole. I hadn’t been posting all that frequently before hand, but I practically dropped off the surface of the earth during the year.

Trouble is, I’m still not back. If you look at my post frequency, it’s still low. I rarely post twice in a week, and I used to be posting at least every day, if not twice a day. Trouble is, I have no clue what to write about. It’s like every time I sit down to figure out what to write, my brain shuts down.

“Don’t even bother, Andrei. I just got done with hours of shit work, and I am in no mood to be blogging.” That’s me right now. I’d sit down and write fiction, but even that seems to escape my grasp. It’s like whenever I get the urge or feel the duty to write something, my brain screams in terror, runs away, and locks the door behind it.

I realize I don’t really have it all that hard. I know I don’t. Chelsea has been a tremendous help around the house since she’s moved down, and things are easier this semester than they ever were my first year. Still, I can’t shake this writer’s block loose from my head.

So what’s there to do? Ramble on about how I can’t find anything meaningful to write about I guess. Maybe something will come to me tomorrow. If anyone else has felt the same way lately, drop a comment. I’d love to share company over our mutual inability to find anything meaningful to write about.

If you want to vote for me as a witness, cast your vote here! Scroll down until you see the first text box, and type in the name "noblewitness"!

Like what you read? Follow me, @anarcho-andrei! You can also find me on PALnet, Steem Romania, and the Fiction Workshop on the Writer’s Block.