Rant: Better Writing

The internet, being what it is, makes it extremely difficult to find good pieces of reading. There is almost a celebration of stupidity (think 9gag.com) in the name of humour. (In its defence, there are some memes on the site that are genuinely funny. For the most part, though, I stand with what I said.)

A reliable source of good pieces to read that I frequent is The Browser. It’s tag line, Writing Worth Reading, is spot on. Most times, when I drop in for my daily dose, there manages to be something that piques my interest. Though there is a tendency for me to gravitate towards philosophy, religion, writing and science, some of the literature there on other topics are sufficiently interesting to warrant the occasional click.

Interviews with writers are something of a special interest for me. I admire their often swift wit, and more than anything, their way with words.

Now and again, I wonder unhappily if it was the fault of our education system that has caused our apparent inability to string words together quite as beautifully or wittily. Our writing look like starched uniforms. Rigid, utilitarian, and a product of officialdom. Did we not get enough practice? Or worse, have we been practicing with the wrong end in mind?

English Language Teachers
‘Structure your paragraphs properly!’
‘Where’s your topic sentence?’
‘Don’t begin your sentences with But!’
‘Be precise! Say what you mean!’

My replies, respectively
Fine.’ (This one is fair enough, I suppose; considering my pepper-shaker punctuation, and a tendency to compose run-on sentences, especially when under the pressure of a examination timer, you get what i mean. Fine, I concede this.)

‘My topic sentence? I merely put in a break so that the reader would not be faced down by a monstrosity of a paragraph. Ever flipped onto a page of text that had no breaks and consequently had an overwhelming urge to just toss it? That’s what I’m trying to avoid.  My topic sentence is in the last paragraph. If you, a teacher of the language cannot see that, I do not know who can.’

‘But it makes a strong topic sentence, especially in counterpoint!’

‘Perhaps my being imprecise is the whole point. Some points have to be purposefully made vague to create an air of ambiguity. Where’s the fun in being precise about something like pole dancing, for example? Why get technical when the mind is completely able to fathom images of pole dancers without further prodding. Why limit them to what you write?’

Words have texture. Words convey a multitude of meanings beyond their dictionary definitions. Lust without texture is simply sexual desire. It should then follow that a string of words would have the same effect. It is infinitely frustrating that today I have to ‘edit out’ writing that is taught at school just so that the right timbre is conveyed.

And so I will keep on trying.

This was mostly a rant. The remainder of it, a recommendation to visit The Browser. If you feel you have wasted some minutes you will never get back, well, too bad. It is what it is.