What it is and What it isnt.

Everyone who has tried to write poetry has written very bad poetry at some point. Like any skill, writing takes time and practice. I think of the music my children play on the piano when compared to what my wife can play. This is not to say I value one over the other (in poetry or music). They both have a place in an artists development and being ashamed of the early efforts devalues what you learn, how you progress.

One of the traps most young writers (and by young I mean in effort and experience, not age), fall into is using very abstract words when faced with sharing or expressing a difficult concept. Words like -truth, love, beauty, real, free, and any of their various forms. They are easy filler and often writers think that these words are universal, hope that they carry a heavy weight that everyone understands.

Unfortunately, this is a false hope, an inaccurate thought. Most often the opposite is the case. Very few of us agree on what these words mean, what they represent.  It would be honest to say that many poems, many stories are attempts to better explain to the reader a particular perception of one or more of these concepts. When trying to write a piece talking about something that an individual finds beautiful, it makes little sense to describe the thing as ‘beautiful’.

The sky is a beautiful blue.

Ah yes, I totally understand. Well done.

Freedom isn’t free.

Well then, we need to call it something else.

Hopefully as a writer progresses they find better ways to explain these concepts, understanding that they may fail in conveying what they intend.

The sky slipped and shifted to a brilliant cerulean blue.

This could be beautiful or not. I like it, to me it is beautiful.

Bloodied and broken, I cast off the shackles.

A particular type of freedom cost me a great deal. I can make sense of this.

I am more forgiving of this type of  abstract writing when it comes to creative things than I am when it appears in non-fiction writing. When someone throws out ‘reality’ as if it is something we all understand, it is an instant cue to me that I am done reading. The same thing applies when one discusses ‘freedom’ as if the word itself represented every individual understanding of the word everywhere.

There is nothing common about common sense. It is always a matter of context.

“I don’t think I have the right to tell people what to do. I believe in personal freedom.” Perhaps so, but there are always limits. I have yet to come across someone who believes in unlimited personal freedom to do whatever one wants to whomever, whenever. It is rhetoric, pure and simple.

It is miraculous we can communicate at all when you stop and imagine all the possible definitions and analogies behind every word ever spoken. Context, context, context.

But I am straying…

There are infinite ways of describing things, events, emotions, concepts. Better writing avoids huge generalities (there are always exceptions). Better writing challenges my conceptions, my perceptions. It can even form them.  I really want to be a better writer.


About fenster

There are some who call me, Tim?

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