Hey there AllOne family,
Here is an essay blurb of sorts containing just a few thoughts on writing and expression. This originated as a Facebook post that I put up as a discussion prompt after I scrolled past an advice column on editing....
Now, I understand the intent and concept of these ideas and that these following "rules" I'm about to reference are circumstantial. Also, in creative expression it is important to remember that no rules really need to be heeded in artistic pursuits. I'm always wary or a little conflicted when I read and recall advice like:
"don't use flowery language"
"don't use a ten dollar word where a dollar word will do"
"only use words that people understand"
and, the troublesome quote that I read in the article that prompted this:
"if your readers need to grab a dictionary your writing needs improvement".
You get the picture.
As I inferred, I understand that pretentiously cramming your most collegiate level, ornamental terms every other word without purpose is a poor choice. I would also argue that this is probably prideful or stuffy wrongfully motivated writing. On the other hand this seems like a "chicken or the egg" situation. If the responsibility of the writer is to constantly cut down their work to appease the lowest common denominator of reading ability, then at this point in time, when writing and reading seems increasingly uninteresting to people, how do creators combat that trend of descending competency and communicative ambition?
Are authors, poets and songwriters etc bound staunchly in politically correct shackles, artistically responsible for coddling readers who are apparently allergic to the (frankly enriching) growth that comes from periodically exerted effort? Also, what era of writing did we decide complexity was a crime? At what point in life of readers' and writers' education do we decide "Okay, that is enough ,where you're at is perfectly fine and how people should be taught. After this, they ought to receive no further literary challenge, otherwise that writer is bombastic and blaspheming on humility".
Shouldn't writing also challenge its audience linguistically to some degree and influence readers to improve their vocabulary (and therefore their ability to express themselves and communicate effectively and civilly and have a vernacular that can help to attempt to articulate navigating this beguiling journey of life?) as well as to find expressive variance in style and use of language?
At what point is it the reader's responsibility to be willing to learn words? Should we also not include unfamiliar creatures, places or characters to the arbitrarily catered-to hypothetical reader? What reading level or literacy capability are we hypothetically trying to write for here? How does one even identify when a word is accessible to the unknown possible myriad readers their story or piece of work will potentially get?
As I've said, these rules are not concrete. The criteria that dictates your writing style, your voice and approach will change with each project. It will depend on the intent of that project, the intended audience and so on. If you want to convey a message explicitly you will probably want to utilize the most accessible terms and language possible. What is tricky to me about writing is that the art is also the vessel of communication. To concern oneself as a writer, as a bookworm, as a lover of language and words... for you to play and enjoy and express with language is intrinsically valuable. Of course, it isn't for everyone. Every other subject or concern in life uses writing as a tool to convey its findings, concerns and excitements to others. With this being true, in all areas (including perhaps math, which I have absolutely no acumen for and would admittedly prefer the simplest of explanations and the most humiliatingly condescending guidance) writing and reading competency is the most widely used ability as it is simply the art of communication. This love of language is the device that binds us all, and so just as we have a responsibility to expand our ability to understand ourselves and others more, we should perhaps ideally compromise this ambition with an intentional reminder to oneself to try not to make our projects needlessly or excessively erudite and esoteric.
Most importantly, put effort in, whether indulging in creating or consuming art, use the experience to grow and have fun with it. Do what you want and emerge a better person. Help one another along with your creations.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading (closely).
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo