Friday, June 24, 2011
Random Thoughts on Language for a Friday Afternoon
This summer I am more focused on teaching adult writers than on K-12 classroom experiences. This is a shift in my own consciousness as I am only teaching elements of writing and revision instead of ways to be a better reader. There is something I keep coming back to in this teaching, as the summer storms keep swirling around the house: we cannot be good writers if we hide the full intention behind our language.
I have had several discussions on the big words, those abstract universals such as happiness, sorrow, beauty, humility, the universe, joy, etc. When we use these terms, we are also relying a great deal on our reader's back knowledge and programming. If we do not illustrate what we interpret these words to be, in metaphoric and imagistic connections, we ask our readers to do all of the work. I liken it to Pavlov and the pooches. When this happens, we ring bells that our readers respond to in patterned ways, rather than navigating our readers to a unique landscape in which these big words can be experienced rather than conjured, crafted by our own imaginations and then shared.
This evasion of the true message, or relying more on the reader than our own sensibilities to derive the essence of the poem (or any written piece), makes for dull writing. It does not say anything of consequence that will make me, as a reader, want to go back and back again to the piece. It is also a way to be very safe but not captivating. If something cannot be exposed fully, don't write it until it can, until you feel safe as a writer to be open as the sky. Wait...there is no rush. But be authentic and be tangible and clear with your writing, as well as inventive and engaging.
TGIF...and what a magificent thunderous sky!