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“The length of a feeling expressed is the length it oughta be.” This!

My family gives me a hard time when I tell a story. They have beginnings, middles, and ends. If I need to communicate something that doesn’t need full exposition (“Hey, supper’s ready!) I am fully capable. I coach high school baseball ... have to be concise. Recognizing when to be concise matters. But I’d much rather hear and tell longer stories ... or ... stories as short or long as they need to be.

Bible pt 3? Jesus in NYC seems a little too obvious and Jesus goes to a small town in the south risks being a little too Lifetime Christmas in July. Maybe ... Jesus returns as a down on his luck jazz bandleader in New Orleans ... Jesus on piano ... Peter on trumpet ... Paul on bass ... Judas on drums ... Mary Magdalene on vocals ... and so on ... trying to make it big one last time ... in the face of multiple -isms and the crooked politician trying to close the nearby orphanage ... and a complicated relationship between pianist and singer ... a kind of Blues Brothers meets the Fabulous Baker Boys.

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Isn't it more a lament for weak editing? Saying what you mean to say, and as much as you want, but with fewer words? I do find lots of Substack contributions wordy. Having more time to cut down on the word count would make writing tighter, cleaner and SHORTER. I'm all for that.

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I write long, long, long. Words are awesome and the more the better. Yes, TGIF. For Bible part 3, Daniel decides to return to the Lion's den. They are more fun than running a kingdom. He trains them for a circus act and sneaks them out through an underground creek he found deep in the back of the den. They take their show on the road and meet Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Still smelling of smoke. They decide to join the act. And then they meet others along the way until they have a full three ring circus show.

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Jan 5Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Having just helped my daughter nickel and dime and create contractions to get down to 250 words per college supplemental essay (and those supplementals are like styrofoam peanuts that spilled out of a huge delivery box--there’s always another one lurking behind a chair leg), i can attest that shorter isn’t necessarily better but it’s definitely harder. I love the essays you shared with Margot--my BFF and I wrote 20-page “notes” which basically redefine “Treasury of the Interior” -- we still have ‘em and, not unrelatedly, are still BFFs 38 years later

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Don't over think it, write as much or as little as you want. The more bullet pointy summary or similarly styled things look, the more robo-made or corporate they look. The Man wants you to edit.

Bible Part 3: Jesus v. God...zilla, duh

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Jan 5·edited Jan 9Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Brevity requires more time, thought, and skill, not in a PowerPoint type of way (there's nothing clever about a dot point). The quote is an obvious claim. I don't know why the observation would rub anyone the wrong way.

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Jan 5Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

I'm going with "medium" - more than a word "K" less than a manifesto - that's the sweet spot. ;)

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Bible part 3: Jesus versus _____. The resurrection of rivalries.

Also loved this. Say it in however many words it takes, unless you have to poop. 😆 🤣

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u up?

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Jan 5Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

If brevity were a thing, Anne Patchett’s career woulda never lifted off! She is The ULTIMAT storyteller winner (but might lose the haiku contest for syllabic meandering)

No hate I do love her

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Jan 5Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

brb, printing that photo of Pedro on the office printer and thumb-tacking it to my cubicle wall*

*For legal reasons, this is a joke.

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Jan 5Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

dear alex,

i love "Brevity might be A soul of wit but it isn’t the only one."

i love that you're asking this question about the concepts at play in "I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time."

i have a LOT of thoughts about it, as someone who has written many long AND short letters.

thought 1: context is important

that is, if you have a relationship with someone wherein you both love sending and receiving long letters, then do it!

and if you have a DIFFERENT relationship with someone wherein they might appreciate a shorter letter, then i think it can be a loving and respectful act to take the time to edit, so that they can receive the communication more efficiently, if that is their desire.

basically, thought 1 is the question "what is this letter for? art or commerce" for example

thought 2: the spirit of the quote

i think that the SPIRIT of this quote is this:

if the letter that you write can be shorter AND accomplish all the goals you have for it, but it takes you more time to do that, then that's a kindness you can do for the recipient. you spend more time writing/editing it so they can spend less time reading it but still have maximum enjoyment per writing/reading unit.

thought 3: maybe thoughts 1 and 2 are really 1 thought.

maybe i only have one thought on this.

and if i spent more time on this comment, editing it and honing it and getting it into perfect communication shape so it is artful and also communicates exactly what i want, then you would get it. but i didn't do that, for two reasons:

reason 1: to demonstrate this point. i sent you the long version so you can IMAGINE what it would be like if i spent more time editing to get you the equally valid and potentially more efficient short version.

reason 2: you have already expressed that you like long letters, so i'm giving the people (you) what they want (this), which is also what i want, because i don't want to spend more time editing.

how does that sound?

tl;dr: i love you!

love,

myq

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Jan 5Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

“my heart doing a frog’s ribbit” 🫶🏽🫶🏽 also Jesus with the good hair! The laser tag stuff reminds me of the day my son taped a whole bunch of string through the hallway then excitedly called me to see. When I responded worried about the paint that tape would take off the walls instead of seeing the obviously awesome red lasers he had strewn through the place, my son burst into tears. I felt like every parent in the world who fucks it up when their kid tells them a fervent dream of becoming an artist. Damnit! Thought I was better than that. Shat on my son’s (yarn-y) vision 🐉

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Jan 5Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Slow and low is the secret to tender juiciness.

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TLDR my nuts

PS, totally agreed!

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Don’t necessarily agree with more is better, but totally with “the thing will be the length it’s gotta be”. Sometimes, all it takes you to express an idea is 2 sentences, or even one, and maybe the idea isn’t as complex but it’s still powerful. But if it takes 20 pages, or 2000, then so be it. You’re doing a disservice to the work by cutting it short before its time. Really liked this one, Alex.

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