I am not accustomed to writing in the first person.
My normal writing style is very much shaped by the expectations for
undergraduate science essays. The passive voice is prevalent and the third person is used throughout. The writing is
formatted for an A4 page using LaTeX. In a daring display of non-conformity,
fullpage packages are used. No
attempt is made to deviate from conventional sentence structures or punctuation;
semicolons — and even the occasional full width dash — are
acceptable but used sparingly.
Emulating AP's paragraph style is totally out of the question.
In an academic setting, I am not especially bothered by these constraints.
There is still a small amount of fun to be had in playing with words —
I recently seized a marvellous opportunity to include both prescribed and
proscribed within a single sentence. Ultimately though, scientific essays are
there to convey technical information, not be a playground for
pretentious literary masturbation.
I can knock together a standard thousand word essay or report whilst on the
phone, eating tea or drunk and be guaranteed an A because of the curve. I am
competing with zombies churned out by high schools who have been conditioned to
immediately recognise alliteration, dénouement, irony and assonance in
the works of others but who cannot master apostrophes or paragraphs in their
own. The challenging parts of the course, the parts that require imagination and
skill, are those which involve doing magic with numbers and code. The writing is
an afterthought thrown in with the pretence that it will help in later life.
From a science perspective, this isn't a huge problem. From a human
perspective, it is rather boring.
Some complain that E2 is unfriendly to new noders. Some argue
that the climate is hostile, that the standards for writing are too high, that
too much attention is paid to technicalities like spelling, capitalisation and
linking. Personally, I love it.
I know that if I write something, it will not be skim-read by a bored marker
who does not want to be surprised. It will be read by people who care about
content, who care about style, who care about originality. I know that comments
on split infinitives or the Oxford comma will come from people who
understand the issues rather than from someone repeating something he
read from a book. I know that the feedback I receive will be helpful, that the
advice I receive will be sincere and well-considered and that the audience
actually wants to be reading. I know that positive feedback will have
been earned. I know that at least one person will pick me up on my use of
'personally' in the previous paragraph.
And I know that if I were to write a string of incoherent crap or miss a capital letter, my writeup
would quickly be decorated with insulting softlinks, down-voted and nuked.
This is liberating. I can experiment with formatting and structure, play with
words and (where appropriate) write in the first person without having to worry
about being told that my opinions are valid, that spelling and grammar are
a matter of interpretation or that I can use words to mean whatever I want them to mean.
I spent the best part of twenty years learning English. I want to use it.