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Marc Barclay

Ms. Lindgren
The Writer at Work
Contains sections and pieces of prior drafts and writing notes/assignments that show what Ive
accomplished and how my writing has evolved.
Abstractions freewrite
*Note: this is a stream of conscious work.
A very simple way of understanding abstractions is to realize that they are just levels.
Thats it. Levels. Now, the interesting thing about these levels is that they relate to each other in
special ways, namely that upper levels mask lower levels. Lower levels might have attributes or
functionality that shows through or affects the higher levels, but higher levels do not necessarily
reveal exactly what happens at lower levels, rather, they might exhibit behavior that is a result of
the lower levels, but appear as its own behavior.
Fortunately, thanks to modern science, we have access to one of the worlds greatest
examples of a chain of abstractions: matter. Take the human body, for instance. Our body is made
up of organs and various structures, which can be visualized as a level, and when you go down
a level, you reach the cellular level, where everything is constructed of trillions of cells. Cells
have their own behavior and jobs; a liver cells behavior might be to duplicate rapidly, while the
liver organs behavior is to regenerate. Of course, this regeneration of the liver is the result of the
duplication of cells at the lower level of abstraction. Moving down the abstraction chain, cells
are made of of various compounds, solutions, molecules, and other chemicals, each of which has
its own properties that determine how it acts and how it reacts. Each of those chemicals is
fundamentally composed of atoms of various elements. Now, it is possible to break atoms down
into protons, neutrons, and electrons, but as for now, the atom shall suffice. I could have just
stated that the human body is composed of lots and lots of atoms, and that would have been
completely correct, but doing so would ignore all of the levels in between, or, in other words, the
abstractions.
Abstractions carry with them a number of interesting properties. After all, they are
not just concepts; they can also be tools. One property is that by knowing how the lower levels
behave, one can theoretically predict the behavior of higher levels if given enough time. This has
numerous applications, from reverse-engineering to chemistry. A famous concept in physics
conceived by French scientist Lapierre states that theoretically, if one knew the exact positions
and speeds of every single particle in the universe, one could know, using physics, everything
that has happened in the past and everything that will happen in the future. Even though
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle disproves this in reality, it is a nice idea that illustrates how
lower levels can predict higher level behavior. In addition, abstractions are able to simplify and
add new behavior...
// When it comes to subjects that I am passionate about, I find it more effective and fun to just
write
// words straight from my head onto the screen, later refining, cutting, adding, and altering the
// piece. I produced both the abstraction and hacking essays in this manner. However, for each
// essay, I still drafted a very rough outline containing my initial expectations, probable content,
and
// a draft of the layout. My essays almost never follow an outline very closely, as for me, outlines

// are a tool to help with writing inspiration and provide optional scaffolding so that I can
// immediately commence writing without stopping every few minutes to take a break and try to
// plan out which direction to go next. However, much as one might draw out a route on a map, I
// often discover alternate paths that are more efficient or scenic, or maybe road construction
// changes my plans, so I go another direction.
What is Hacking
Goal: To educate the reader about what hacking ACTUALLY is, as
well as provide a few examples, pieces of pop culture, and
original material/thoughts.
Essay Type: collage
Medium: printed paper w/ terminal-style font, maybe a computer
for executing a shell command,
// My hacking essays outline is incredibly short because, as you can see, I didnt get in 10 lines
// before I started actually writing. I spent literally almost 3 hours just writing and planning this
// work when I first started because I was so excited, and I had so much fun that I spent another
// hour or so working on it at night. I couldnt resist. In this case, stream-of-consciousness clearly
// triumphed over planning

Half-Life 2 Essay Outline and Planning


Goal: to immerse the reader within HL2s universe without them initially knowing the setting is
inside of a video game. I want the reader to understand the setting and undergo a similar, if not
the same experience I have when I visit this world.
Essay Type: collage (probably)
Medium: mixed
Will feature my lighthouse painting
Will feature a playlist of selected ambient tracks from the HL2 OST
The medium on which the essay will exist is to be decided
Essay layout:
There will be a number of different snapshots, each one highlighting an integral
part or place within HL2. By integral, I mean a part/place that especially contributes to
ones experience of the environment, such as the massive, metal bridge underneath a
train, or a headcrab, one of the most iconic creatures. Photographs may possibly
accompany each snapshot.
Focus on the parts of world that are sketchy, dingy, beautiful, urban, countryside,
terrifying. I want the reader to feel how dirty abandoned the graffitied walls are, how it
feels to smash the soft flesh of a leaping headcrab, how your heart drops as you gaze
downward at the crashing waves a hundred feet below you while trying to traverse the
metallic supports and rungs of a bridge. Give them feelings for Alyx, describing her as
the most loyal companion, and somehow manage to do so with only one paragraph. Show

them the strange contrast between the old architecture and the sleek, black, advanced
technology that accompanies the buildings and somehow still fits in.
Play with the structure, syntax, and formatting of the piece
Snapshot drafts:
//
// Ah, yes, you can see how I use comments from programming to mark where I will
eventually
// make changes or add content. However, that never happened because I very quickly decided
that
// I wouldnt write this essay. I gave it some serious thought, as HL2 is a game that has changed
my
// life almost as much as playing bass, believe it or not. You can probably guess the main reason I
// nixed this piece. I am not a good enough writer to effectively achieve what I wanted with such
// an essay, and no matter what I did, it would still come across as some kid talking about his
// favorite video game. I wanted to recreate HL2 in writing so as to eliminate the video game
// aspect and leave the reader with the purified essence of Black Mesa and the Combine and
weird,
// abstract, technological architecture blended with hundred year old buildings and streets, but
there
// is a reason HL2 chose its medium as dynamically digital and not scribed. You will have to
trust
// me in that this is a masterpiece that I could not do justice.
Title (for escalator essay)
Very simple summary of event:
When I was six, me and my mom went to the mall to buy new shoes, and on the
escalator, I was playing around and somehow managed to wedge my foot in the side of
the escalator. My foot then became stuck inside of the escalator up to my ankle, and I was
there for around an hour until the fire department came and cut me out of the metal stairs
using the jaws of life. This was the only time Ive ever been in an ambulance, and when I
was at the hospital, I got to have a grape popsicle. After the whole thing was over, I was
very briefly mentioned on the news that night, and I had to wear a special big shoe on my
foot for a week. And I still didnt end up getting my shoes (I think. I know the escalator
destroyed my right shoe in the process).
What I want discussed/explored:
Details remembered of the experience (both mine and my mothers)
Me and my mothers emotions/thoughts during the experience
What the experience says about me as a person
Essay form factor: MLA, multiple lengthy paragraphs
Organizational ideas:
Hook idea: It was the only time Ive ever ridden in an ambulance.

Maybe right after mention the whole scene and what was going on (when my foot
was stuck)
START NEW PARAGRAPH
Narrate story from the beginning up until I wedged my foot in, then explore my
disobedience as a reflection of my character at the time (questioning adults orders)
Go back to the scene, maybe provide more detail (maybe not), but write up until
the firefighters rescue me and I get loaded into a stretcher
NEW PARAGRAPH
Now talk about the ambulance ride and what it was like at the hospital, about how
I somehow didnt break any bones, about the grape popsicle
Talk about how when I got back home, my dad says I was on the news, but I
missed it, and about how I had to wear a big shoe for a week afterward
NEW PARAGRAPH
Reflect on the experience, maybe how it demonstrates my reckless nature, how I
was scared of escalators until the 3rd grade, what I learned, etc...
// Here, the outline is much longer than previous, for my escalator essay required more
thoughtful
// planning and organization. This is because my memories of the event are scattered and
somewhat
// unclear, so I needed to jot down what I and others could recall and then form a layout. Notice
// that I also include the goals of the essay, which were also present in the other outlines. This
helps
// keep my writing on track, and also establishes in writing what is is exactly that I want to
achieve.
// My memory is sometimes around 40 years ahead of my actual age, so creating reminders is
// often necessary.