Language, written language, has a heart-beat of its own that one has to find in order to move people. Ever read a ‘dry’ text? A dry text is a text without that beat, without that rhythm. It is how you recognise a piece that’s not working optimally because it sounds flat, because the beat and the feel is not in it.
Fiction, journalism, academic reports all are better for having a heart-beat, and in particular essays become a force with that rhythm. Yes, you have to source them. Yes, you have to reference them. But you’re also arguing, you’re also debating, and to be convincing you have produce something that hums and bristles when you read it. You have to produce something that breathes.
I am so convinced of this, and it’s what I try to do with everything I write. I don’t always succeed. But I think I owe it to the craft to try, and I think I owe it to the art to make my utmost. That’s why I am unabashedly proud of myself at the moment for winning a class competition together with Ben.
Hearing the words that came from my English Language teacher’s mouth – the “Colin, you certainly have the gift of the gab, at least in writing” – made me feel really good yesterday. The Lutheran in me wants to dispel the praise, diminish it, because you’re not supposed to accept praise. Praise is suspect. Praise is foolish. But sometimes… Sometimes I feel like I want something that I can brag about, feel proud about, and feel good about. And I do, for the little it’s worth.
Something that I’m not so proud of is a quiet fury at my in-laws, who are visiting today, but I will describe that in a later post when they have gone and the immediate long-fuse have been doused and stepped on.