Monday, December 04, 2006

Easy Reading, Hard Writing

The writer sits in solitude, wording his thoughts with the ink of his pen (or, in this electronic era of ours, the keys of his computer). With every letter scribbled (or typed) a piece of the writer remains on the lined paper (or streaked screen). The naked words leave him most vulnerable to the reader’s discretion (or indiscretion); and though he tells himself it doesn’t matter, he yearns for the reader’s approval nonetheless.

It is fascinating the evolution of a literary piece – how white purity of thought becomes black drops of ink, how black drops of ink become letters, how letters become words, words become sentences, sentences paragraphs, paragraphs chapters, chapters books, books libraries. Like the growth and maturation of a fine wine is the growth and maturation of a fine writ – just the right balance of density and subtlety, the perfect harmony of simplicity and complexity and, if you’re really lucky, the everlasting memory of a delightful finish.

The 19th century American novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne (who would turn scarlet whenever he wrote a letter), worked hard on the easily read aphorism, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” And though one could say he lived in The House of the Seven Fables, nevertheless, I think the adage of his remains truer than Twice-Told Tales.

The writer’s sweat and blood (or, for the pedestrian, quill and ink) let the reader enjoy an easy read without so much as turning a page. The countless discards are never discussed, the sleepless nights are never mentioned, the hours of brain racking are never published; all the reader knows (and needs to know) is the finished product and its synthetic rhythm.

In today’s colorful e-world (blue-teeth byte on infrareds), the antithesis reigns supreme (hi-tech capability, low-key ability; surf in broadband, think in narrow-mind) – and not only in the rhetorical: on one hand it is much easier to write, on the other hand it is much harder to read.

Ten years ago, except for professional journalists and published authors, it was very difficult for a regular Joe sitting on his potato farm in Nowhere, Idaho, to communicate his thoughts and feelings to a regular Punjab sitting in the lotus position in Somewhere, Katmandu. But, today, in a Googlized world where Myspace is your space and Youtube is my tube, communication of one’s self is pretty much limitless – a long, bleach-haired surfer (that is, the modern surfer, surfing the web, not the ocean; riding the keyboard, not the surfboard) could stumble upon (like I’m sure many of you have) pretty much anything.

And, as any surfer will attest, every wave has an upside and a downside: the upside, like many upsides, is obvious – the power to reach 6 billion people with the click of a button. The downside, like many downsides, is not so obvious until the wave has begun its descent – because it is very easy to write and communicate, it is also very difficult to read and understand. Since life in the blogging world is so simple (even the regular Joe and Punjab can proclaim themselves literary geniuses with a message of heavenly proportions) it begets absolutely no effort from its constituents, and because no effort is begotten, no effort is made, and because no effort is made, the writing comes easy, and because the writing comes easy, the reading becomes hard.

Still no matter how easy or difficult, the writer sits in solitude, wording his thoughts with the ink of his pen (or, in this electronic era of ours, the keys of his computer) – and all he can hope for is that some of them make sense.

With every letter scribbled (or typed) a piece of the writer remains on the lined paper (or streaked screen) – and all he can pray for is that just one of those letters remains in the reader's heart.

The naked words leave him most vulnerable to the reader’s discretion (or indiscretion) – and all he can ask for is honesty.

And though he tells himself it doesn’t matter, he yearns for the reader’s approval nonetheless – and all he can say is thank you.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

mendy your writing is impeccable, although it is not much of a compliment coming from me, a non-writer. your usage of hawthorne's titles strewn into that paragraph was such fun to read!

12/04/2006 6:03 PM  
Blogger Dovid said...

Amazing!!

12/05/2006 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, great writing.

12/05/2006 8:40 PM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

you people make me blush.

Flattery is what self-confidence wishes to be - SQ

12/05/2006 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First time really checking out your blog...
Lots of people can write. Lots of people have nice thoughts and perspectives. So add another to the list.
But your ability to take words and phrases and twist them, manipulate them, etc.
I honestly don't know how to describe what I'm trying to say, or how I'm trying to say it - all I can say is that it's simply brilliant.

12/11/2006 4:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good writer good talent... dont waste it

12/13/2006 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Hi - I could not find another way to contact you, so I figured I'd try this...I wanted to speak to you about writing possibilities/your availability for hire - halberstaml@ou.org

12/14/2006 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMGD I LOVE YOU JAKEEEEEE

12/18/2006 2:09 AM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

why is it always the anonymous ones that love you?

12/18/2006 4:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least be happy it's still just anonymous comments...
just wait until you start getting the phone calls, the telegrams, the love letters with poems where each line starts with another letter of your name, headless snapshots with "Jakey and me 4ever" written on the back...in blood...

Good luck buddy...

12/18/2006 10:52 AM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

frozen brain: that's funny :)

sounds like u've been scarred by one too many an imaginative stalker

12/19/2006 1:08 AM  

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