Words, words, words

Words, words, words…once, I had the gift…I could make love out of words as a potter makes cups out of clay, love that overthrows empires, love that binds two hearts together come hellfire and brimstone…I could cause a riot in a nunnery…but now…I have lost my gift. It’s as if my quill is broken. As if the organ of the imagination has dried up. As if the proud tower of my genius has collapsed. Nothing comes.

Will Shakespeare, Shakespeare in Love

These words are much better when you can see the facial expressions of the anachronistic Freudian psychoanalyst listening to the speech. A raised eyebrow can add so much depth to a scene.

I don’t suffer from writers block, at least, I haven’t yet in the twenty odd years I’ve taken pen to paper or hands to keyboard with the hopes of creating something novel and brilliant. But I do get bored with myself, with my words and imagination. There are times when the ennui settles in – life is a dreadful bore and I, in particular, am frightfully dull.

Dull. It is a good word. An apt description. Not shiny. Not bright. Lacking luster. I am dull.

I want to be cute and clever and comedic, while pointing out a universal truth that surrounds us, penetrates us, binds the galaxy together…. Oh wait, that’s The Force. Darn.

I want to write something so entertaining, so true, so emotionally resonate, that you, dear reader, won’t be happy until you’ve shared it with two friends and then they’ll share it with two friends and so on and so on until it goes viral. And then I can relax. My work here will be done. Because the best way to avoid the sophomore slump is to change your name and move to Estonia.

I loved Estonia. I’ve never been to a country that seemed so naturally happy to see tourists. I was only there for six hours though, it could have been an act. Money-grubbing Europeans. Bad mouthing America but never tuning down those ugly green bills covered in ugly dead men. (you can’t say dead presidents – Franklin wasn’t a president, regardless of what he may have thought while he was contracting every venereal disease known to humanity during his time in France.)

Oh dear – I’ve just insulted an entire continent, haven’t I? Not good. Of course I never could understand why Europe was a continent – isn’t it attached to Asia? Isn’t a continent supposed to be it’s own thing – surrounded by water?

Here, look at this dog. Apparently his name is Franklin.

Franklin (Photo credit: laika_one)

Speaking of unanswerable questions, (and in the hopes of changing the subject) Why aren’t there any women on our currency? Oh right – there was the Susan B. Anthony silver dollar. That worked out well, didn’t it? “It was one of the most unpopular coins in American history,” says Wikipedia. I guess no men wanted that cold, heavy thing so close to their jewels, I mean other coins.

So they got rid of the coin depicting a woman who said we should be treated equally, and replaced it with a coin depicting a woman who made all the men around her look like weaklings. But the Sacagawea coin hasn’t proven to be any more successful. Maybe if they put the women on the smaller denomination coinage, the men would be more comfortable with them in their pockets. Aw, poor, scared men. Don’t worry, you’ve got a few more good years in control. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Just a bit more and I’ve hit my word count for the day. Or night, rather. I tried to write this morning, but I got distracted by the damn internet. It is always there, waiting, lurking in the corner of my eye… look Jill, a video about sleep patterns… look Jill, your favorite youtuber has a new vlog update… look Jill, you can learn all about why people kiss.

Hemingway (supposedly*) said, write drunk, edit sober. Well, I’ve done part one. If you see this post in the morning, then hopefully I’ve completed part two.

If not, I apologize profusely.

*never trust anything you read.

Ernest Hemingway: Brief

Cover of "The Old Man and The Sea"To be honest, I’m not sure I much care for Hemingway.  No, not sure at all.  I mean, he’s a writer.  A good writer. One of the best.  You know all that already.  But his stories, well, they’re sad.  Nothing good happens in them, nothing happy.  But you gotta read them, right?  Because he’s a great writer, everyone knows that.

The best thing, about his stories, is that they’re short. To the point. Brief. I like brief.  I like stories that say a lot with a little.

The Old Man and the Sea, that’s the only long one that I read all the way through. I had to, for school.  I didn’t like it.  Not much anyway.  It just went on and on about those damn sharks until I was hoping they’d just bite the old man and get it over with.

The best one, the best short one, was The Killers.  It’s sad, but it tells a whole story with almost no words at all. No extra words.

Can’t help but admire a guy who can say so much with so little.

Maybe if he can do it, I can too.


One Word Test

In Fear of Descriptive Words

In this thoughtful post, melanonce spoke in defense of descriptive words.  As an example of how descriptors add value, she took a sentence from The Great Gatsby and re-wrote it removing most of the descriptive words.  I liked her sentence better than the original.

She said that without the ‘fluff,’ the meaning of the sentence changed. I am sure she is correct, but I will never know. The adverbs and adjectives distract me and I can not get through them to the meaning underneath.

I love to read, and I read a lot, but I am not a good reader.

I do not enjoy excessive description in writing. I skip whole passages if nothing tangible is said or done within them. I have tried and failed a dozen times to get through Tolkien, but I just can’t deal with his descriptions of trees. I try to move past them quickly, the plethora of words that in essence mean ‘green’ or ‘bark’ or ‘leaf,’ but before I can find another word of action to cling to, my eyes glaze over and the book falls from my numb hands.

And it isn’t just the descriptive words I dislike. I like Hemingway’s short stories, but The Old Man and the Sea bored me. I only got through it because I listened to it while doing other things. I vacuumed and dusted my entire house and folded three loads of laundry in the time between the first shark attack and the last. How could exciting events become so dull? Easy: too many words. I understand that the author wanted the reader to feel, as closely as possible, what it was like to be on that boat, so far from home, enervated and lonely, having your prize taken away from you, chomp by chomp. But for a writer who was praised for the simplicity of his writing, he used hell of a lot of words to tell a simple tale.

I do not read poetry – it makes no sense to me. I can feel the beauty of the flow of the words, the sound of the rhyme, but the meaning escapes me. And sadly, so often the beauty of poetry is stripped away when the bare bones of its meaning is exposed.

I am aware that this makes me look like a barbarian. But I can not pretend to care about varying shades of green in the ocean or the forest or even in a heroine’s eyes. If this means I am shunned from certain literary circles, so be it. I’d probably just annoy you all with my inane questions. (But what does it mean? Why didn’t he just say it like that in the first place? Why is the author making me work so hard?)