The Science of Writing

My little brother just participated in the fifth-grade science fair. His topic was something about evolution. I’d give you more details, but I was slightly distracted by the fact that he used a photograph of me as part of his illustrated progression from Australopithecus to Homo Sapiens. And that picture was NOT on the far right of the scale.

In high dudgeon, I turned to inspect the other fifth-graders’ projects. Humanity’s age-old questions were answered here, guys. “Why Are Volcanos Deadly?” one girl asked. “What Type of Steel Is Best for Bridges?” queried another.  A bespectacled boy presented a board entitled “Is There Dark Matter?”

My fifth-grade science fair experiment was called “Do Plants Grow Better with Water or with Coke?”

Given the obvious intellectual gap between us, I hope some of these scientists can be persuaded to take on my burning questions.

Are Writers More Productive in Sweatpants, or No Pants?

I would like to see a controlled experiment that would take into account quality, quantity, and number of panicky moments when the UPS guy unexpectedly arrives.

How Many Wikipedia Pages Can One Read Before One Realizes One’s Not Researching, Just Wasting Time?

I expect it’s a very high number, as I myself have not hit it.

How Many Awkward Constructions with “One” Can One Embrace Before One Just Uses “You” Already?

Hypothesis: many.

Does the Cactus on My Desk Grow Better with Water or No Water?

As I write, I often ponder this problem. Though not often enough to be shamed into trying the “water” option.

How Many Words a Minute Is It Possible to Type with Six Fingers?

Is anyone else cursed with this fate? I somehow learned to type properly with my left hand and chicken-peckingly with my right hand. Now I can’t change.

In Emails to One’s Agent, What is the Ideal Ratio of Exclamation Points to Periods?

If it’s not approximately 5:1, I’m doing something very, very wrong.

Why Does My Brother Think I’m a Neanderthal?

This question, I suspect, has no satisfactory answer.

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