Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Words Can't Say

I love to write.  Most who read this blog also probably love to write.  That said, there can be times when writing is frustrating.  I don't mean when you have writer's block or when life's distractions get in the way of reaching your daily word count goal.  I'm talking instead of when words simply aren't enough to convey the story.

Writers like to pride ourselves on hitting an emotional note with our readers, but there are times when even our best prose is inadequate to convey what happened.  Having been to combat, I understand just how true this can be.  It's difficult to get across the fear and drive that gets into you when bullets are flying overhead.  Most books talk about "intense fighting" and "battle fatigued Soldiers," but that only lets the reader experience the smallest portion of crawling through the dirt and how fast your heart beats when you're only feet from someone who wants to kill you.  If you've never held a kid's hand as they died or spoken to a grieving mother as you tell her that her son is dead, then you have no real context to understand it when described.

Most of us have been broken up with, so think back to that shitty experience.  We might describe it to others as "heartbreaking" or "crushing," but do those words really express our feelings.  I know a lot of people resort to writing poetry after a breakup, but can that ever really convey the sense of emptiness and loss we felt?
(Why is the world so cold sometimes?)
Even writing this post can be less than fulfilling.  Most writers out there will understand the piece intuitively, without the need for words.  They'll also understand just how little the words impress on someone if there isn't a frame of reference for everyone who reads it.

However, that doesn't mean we give up.  Instead, it should drive us to get even better at conveying our thoughts, for we understand just how inadequate the words will be, especially if we use the wrong ones.  We have to continually study the craft of writing so that we can get across the reality of the situation.  It takes time and skill to evoke a true emotional reaction, and that rarely comes from saying, "It was a hard day of battle."  Not only do we owe that kind of effort to our audience, but we also owe it to those we are writing about.  Otherwise their stories will simply get lost in the dust of time.

No comments:

Post a Comment