One Day Blog Silence

30 April 2007

Another Light Extinguished...
In honor of Kurt Vonnegut, who died today, I will post what I believe to be a fitting epitaph. From his last published book, A Man Without a Country, a poem, entitled, fittingly, "Requiem." So it goes.

The crucified planet Earth,
should it find a voice
and a sense of irony,
might now well say
of our abuse of it,
"Forgive them, Father,
They know not what they do."

The irony would be
that we know what
we are doing.

When the last living thing
has died on account of us,
how poetical it would be
if Earth could say,
in a voice floating up
from the floor
of the Grand Canyon,
"It is done."
People did not like it here.

12 April 2007

Brevity, Clarity and Nadine
Recently, I have been working diligently to observe George Orwell's rules for writing covered in his essay, "Politics and the English Language". This one short work guides everything I write these days, and I keep it in mind each time I sit down at my computer. Although the original piece goes into details (complete with examples) concerning the mistakes it describes, the following is a list of the basic rules -

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
I love #6 in particular. It sounds so English to think that bad writing could be considered "barbarous".

In any case, he makes wonderful points about excessive wordiness and vague language muddling up the true meaning and power of the writing. I know I have a tendency to make that very mistake and so I am working hard to learn the art of style and make mine more simple.

As an exercise I am working on a short story titled "The River". It is told from the perspective of a six-year old girl I have named Nadine. Children by definition have simple vocabularies and generally express exactly what they mean in the most direct way possible. They tell it like it is, and don't mince words. Now I write a draft, and then each time go back and simplify. Little Nadine has been a great help, as she is teaching me to learn my voice pared and polished.

10 April 2007

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