I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have. When you begin to really learn the craft of writing, when you really begin understand how to use language, to manipulate words to affect ideas, you start to really notice how people misuse language in every day life. In marketing, commercials, advertisements for jobs, especially commercials, newspapers, and magazine articles it’s all right there, ready for everyone to see what went wrong. Did I mention the all too frequent misuse of grammar in commercials, it’s there too.
As a new writer you begin to think, wow did I sound as stupid as all of these people? Do I sound this stupid now? As a new writer seeing all of these mistakes “professionals” make, you begin to fear looking back through your old manuscripts. You may even wake up in cold sweats one night remembering that apostrophe you forgot to put in your writing sample. I haven’t yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s coming.
Well, don’t fear too much. Enlightened folks understand that language is fluid, flexible, and used appropriately in different ways in specific situations. What you want to remember is to do your best to use language with intention. Be conscientious. And remember, be creative. As Stephen Fry explains in the wonderful kinetic typography video below, that “misuse” or exploration of the flexibility of language has been going on for a very long time. Language is a living entity within living entities.
I leave you with a few questions, my friends. Give them some thought and leave me a comment. One question is, do you agree with what Mr. Fry asserts?
Do you believe that language is a living thing, to be used flexibly to exact images and evoke emotions in your readers, even it it’s not technically correct by current standards?
And last, when you intentionally “misuse” a word and your editor marks you for it, will you stand by your mode of expression and fight for the words you so lovingly crafted? Or will you back down?
I want to hear from you.
Until then, you have my best regards.