Friday, January 6, 2017

A Child's Game

The writer who lounges in the "I love words" state of writing remains as a child so far as any measure of technical proficiency is concerned. 

She professes a love for the sounds of words for their own sake, the gurgle and swish of some words, the poetic ambience of other words, and yet other sounds that remind of bodily functions, snoring and sneezing, hiccoughing, and gasping in their biological ways.

This professed love, you have come to believe, is an excuse, a Maginot Line of defense against the apparent enemy, which, we soon learn, is story. "Why, anyone could tell a story, but how many can tell a proper one, in the proper way?"

What professional writers, even lazy or downright bad ones, do not like words? The glare of reductionism is bright with this revelation. What ball player dislikes balls? What dancer loathes music? To push the matter to the edge of the table, what scientist dislikes hypotheses? To sweep the matter off the table and into free fall, what librarian hates books?

The writer who loves story is the star in your galaxy of wonders; she fucking knows where she is, where the parts go, the sentences sound, and the feelings resonate as though a wine glass rim, flicked to sound its magical spell.

And yet they come forth, those who love words, eyes aglow with the memory of some memorized poem, eager to ignore the story that waves its arms to be heard, eager for some susurru, some intimation of sequestration, some stentorian tone or opalescent glint of the wing of some phantasm.

"Oh, yes, story," they tell you with a faint curl of the lower lip, "that thrift-shop appurtenance, so in need of poetic enhancement and metaphoric allusion to make it acceptable.  

Of course it is a child's game to love words at that level. We suffer their patronizing arrogance, waiting for them to do the thing they must do if they are to write with vital effect, and particularly for young readers such as the ones we once were when we rushed to catch the departing train; we wait for them to grow. Up.

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