Saturday, October 22, 2011

Writers are Great at Calculus!

So I was telling my husband about the latest ideas in the story that I’m plotting out and he says, “It’s getting better and better all the time. You would be so good at calculus.” You can see why I love this man:

a) he likes my stories!

b) he thinks I would be good at calculus!

I never took calculus. Not in high school. Not in college. But my husband did. You have to, long before they give you a PhD in math, which he got, writing a thesis about Group Theory in Finite Geometries. And now he teaches Calculus to high schoolers. And he says, and I trust him, that the heart of calculus is to take a problem that you don’t know how to solve and find a way to make an estimate. Then keep making that estimate a little bit better, and then a little bit better, and then a little bit better. Keeping working at it and the difference between your solution and the final solution doesn’t matter because:

a) you know how to make your estimate a little bit better

b) eventually, your revised, revised, revised estimate will point you to a final solution.

Dr. Math said that I contributed to his understanding of calculus in this way because he saw how writers write and revise and revise and revise. There’s a lot to love about that man.

Keep rocking the calculus my friends!


  1. What a great guy, you are so lucky. I like the calculus analogy, I always knew there was a similarity between art and math.

  2. As a recovering physicist, I confirm your husband's analogy. To take it even further, a perfect story is therefore only possible through infinite revision. So hit it as hard as you can, but remember, kids: in this life, there is such a thing as good enough.

    P.S. Phyllis Root just walked past my window.

  3. Peter, as a recovering physicist, you seem primed for a new life as a surrealist!

  4. Who was it that said, "a piece of writing is never finished, only abandoned?"

  5. Google tells me that the French poet Paul Verlaine is the author of your quote, Jackie.

    Of course, as Abraham Lincoln once said, "The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine."