Thursday, April 19, 2012

You Deserve Better

I read an article today.

I winced.  Almost disgusted.  The piece means well, I am sure.  Pressure-washing the adjectives and adverbs, scrubbing redundancy, cleaning sentences to evoke more meaning and less misunderstanding.  Absolutely.  But encouraging sterility of imagination and the razing of entire rainforests of words simply to tell the story in the easiest and quickest way possible?

That is scary.  Sad.  And disheartening.  Our beautiful language and our beautiful minds are being cast out of the roller coasters in favor of the merry-go-round.

Is this what we have been reduced to?  Are these the confines in which storytellers must now be bound? I can appreciate technical writers.  Magazine-style articles.  Journalists.  As a medical editor, I am also bound by a style guide.  My husband is bound by an entirely different style guide as he writes for the military community.  I can appreciate these niches.

But storytellers?  Word-dancing raconteurs?  Weavers of shine and magic, creators of a world in which readers can lose themselves completely?

Writing is an art.  The spinning of the story, the brush.  To tickle a fancy on a syllable requires knowledge of the human mind and heart.  Knowing, as though you were born with a seventh sense, the perfect word, with the consonants and vowels in just the right spot, drawing your reader gently behind you as you soften their synapses with a graceful S or W at the perfect time.  Jerking them in a clonic fit as you bite on just the right crushing K or X.

It is a ride.  From the first word to the last, my stories are a ride.  Strap yourself down.  Buckle yourself in, sweet lovelies, and be prepared to scream on the downhills of a sliced and gushing femoral artery.  Let yourself sway upon a cloud with the memory of collecting a Radio Flyer full of black-eyed susans with grandma.  Be ready to dance to my beat.  Rise up, or read something else.
Is this pretension?  I don't condescend.  Not to my readers.  Never.  I grab their hand and let them fly with me.  I dare them to be better.  To allow their imagination to fold itself in a prism and let my words be the light which throws dazzling color in every corner of their whole self.

I will not follow the silly rules of humans.  I will never write to the lowest common denominator.  And I will never assume my species is as droll and dead as the writer of this article implies.

I shall take my sentences fragments and beg you to eat them.  I will lay my metaphors at your feet and ask that you squish them with your toes.  Wrap yourself in a conflict you can touch and smell and get in a gritty bar fight with.  Cover yourself in a vignette whose peaches you can taste right at the tip of your tongue.

Embrace your language.  Love your words, the way they sound and feel.  Be cognizant of every rule you break, every period, every comma, every invented word.  Realize that breaking those rules is just as powerful a tool as the size of your vocabulary. Realize that the human mind settles so much deeper into the syncopation of storydancing-  And that is the time when losing yourself begins.

I'll never eat the stale potato chips of threadbare prose when there is key lime pie to be had.  Absolutely.  Unacceptable.

You see, I am a storyteller.  I am a writer.  I am an artist.  What I do is art in every sense of the word.  It gives color to a bland world of easily palpable paragraphs and independent clauses.

Slow your reader down! Please! Make them stop and see the world in all of its filth and joy.

Oh, yes. A storyteller, indeed.  I tell stories to those who want to live them.  I give life to fantasies spinning wheels in a dream.

I refuse to write down to you, sweet reader.  You deserve better.

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