Tuesday, December 28, 2010

literally

i am a writer, writer of fictions
i am the heart that you call home...
 - "the engine driver," the decemberists

i have worked with language as long as i've known how to put my dreams on paper. i've written regularly for basically the last 25 years of my life. fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose, and even an ill-fated screenplay - your humble blog proprietor has written it all. not to brag, but i think i've got a pretty decent command of this mother tongue of mine. i hone my craft here, there and everywhere, digital and analog, recreationally and professionally. this craft bleeds into my life. i speak as i write, much to the chagrin of my legal writing professors. ("would you actually say that word?" uh, yeah, dumb-ass; that's why i wrote it.) i use metaphor, simile, exaggeration, understatement. i am an architect of words, and it's a talent a) of which i am justifiably proud and b) that has been appreciated by many people with whom i've interacted over time.

so imagine my surprise when it came to my attention that this talent is radically underappreciated by some of the people i love most dearly. i mean, it's not an outright hostility - no one's telling me, as if anyone ever could, to stop my writing. but that sort of foolishness would almost be easier to wrap my head around. it's more of an intellectual blind spot. it's almost as if this crew is thoroughly incapable of comprehending figurative language. it's the weirdest damn thing i've ever seen in my life.

there is a cold, logical literalism at work in these conversations, one that confounds and amuses me in equal parts. words must be chosen carefully in order to get a point across. well, more specifically, to avoid a five-minute excursus as to what i meant and didn't mean, what i said and didn't say. it's important in this crew to be precise. accurate, even. to say that this is a frustrating development in my life is an - ha, ha - understatement. it's funny, too, in that, in the immortal words of jimmy buffett, if i couldn't laugh, i would just go insane.

look, i'm a lawyer. i understand the need to be incredibly precise. but guess what? my linguistic crayon box has 120 colors in it, and i will use every single goddamned one of them. i will not be stultified just because people in this world still use the 8-crayon kindergarten pack. i am a master of the language, spoken and written, and i will practice my art and craft, loud and proud. and if you can't hang? well. i'd advise that you either learn to drive or get off the track, or else you're liable to get left behind...

6 comments:

  1. AMEN!!!! The crayon metaphor is a great one!

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  2. "People like that just make my head explode. Literally!"

    (A friend of mine once said this, and it has remained one of my favorite "literally" misusings ever. Then again, appreciate good word, uh, thingys.)

    Keep on writing, my friend.

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  3. Don't strop writing, my friend.

    Or my head will explode. Literally.

    Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are a master of your mother tongue! I doubt that you could write with an 8-color box of crayons even if you wanted to. Write on!

    ReplyDelete

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