About eight hundred words
I’ve done a lot of writing in my life, producing songs, reviews, blog posts, articles and a book. My favorite form of writing, though, is the newspaper column. As both a reader and a writer, I love that these pieces can be read quickly, that they must have a fairly specific point and that they are accessibly written. But the most engaging part of a column (to me) is that one learns of a given writer's particular preoccupations not from reading any particular column, but from the accumulation of information that comes from continually reading that him or her week after week.
Several years ago, when I was in graduate school, I got to write a political column for the student newspaper. I absolutely loved it, and have been looking for that rush ever since. I got tired of waiting for someone with a magazine or newspaper to offer me a column, so I gave one to myself by starting this site.
The page’s title comes from the word count I did of some random column in the newspaper after I got the idea to put up the site. I have since discovered that this particular column must have been some sort of an anomaly, and that most opinion pieces are closer to one thousand words. But I liked the sound of eight hundred words, so I stuck with it.
My original plan was to put up at least one column a week. I was going to supplement that with a blog as things kind of came up. Rather than being short, pithy little pieces, though, my blog posts are often far longer than 1000 words. As such, they are not really columns. I like the free-flowing format that is developing here, but do think that my initial impulse to keep things punchy by restricting the word count was a good one. So I might impose some greater discipline on my self in the future. In the meantime, though, I hope you enjoy reading whatever I put up there. Feel free to comment or submit something should you be inspired to do so.
- I understand why people on other sites have policies that they will issue notice of correction whenever any writing is changed or updated. In theory, I support that. Unfortunately, I am an inveterate tinkerer, and will constantly revisit posts and columns to correct spelling, alter grammar, update syntax and so on. I can guarantee that putting notices up every time I did that would get tedious very quickly. So I won't do that.
- I will always place a notice of correction, however, on any update or revision that reflects a substantive change in the meaning of what has been written. I reserve the right to determine which changes meet that standard.
- Comments from readers may be removed if I determine that they are counter to a spirit of constructive dialogue. Individuals may be banned from making comments for the same reason. I determine what comments violate this standard.
- Any policies may be changed at any time.
This website by Mike O'Connor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The rights and obligations of all visitors to the site are listed fully at the link above. A summary of its major points, which is adapted from the Creative Commons human-readable summary of the license and is not a substitute for it, is listed below.
Visitors to the site are free to:
- Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
- Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
- The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.
Under the following terms:
- Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
- NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
- ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.
- No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
- You do not have to comply with the license for elements of the material in the public domain or where your use is permitted by an applicable exception or limitation.
- No warranties are given. The license may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material.