The Trouble with Writing

What most who ambitiously but ill-advisedly take on the paramount task of writing a book soon come to realize is that the assignment they have undertaken is vastly more difficult than they could ever have perceived. The ultimate goal, to pass along meaning to the reader, requires tireless efforts and failures before it is achieved. Whether that meaning is simply inlaid in the traits and characterization of the main protagonist, a moral undertone of Aesop’s design, or even a long, symbolic dichotomy commenting on the very nature of man, the route to these ends are achieved in much the same way. Regardless of the type, the author’s goal of imparting a message lies in every line.

The trouble with writingis that one must choose from 26 letters in the English alphabet, and perhaps 15 other punctuation symbols, and compile them into the perfect combination. They need to transcend the barrier of intent in order to not only express their meaning, but have it received and interpreted by the intended audience. Language is a puzzle which can be connected, destroyed, rearranged, moved, forced, manipulated, and controlled in order to express even the most intricate and complex of thoughts, meanings, and concepts.

As if this sound a harrowing enough traverse, each choice made in the writing process must connect flawlessly with the rest of the work. Each choice a writer makes is just that; a choice. It is a conscious decision top employ one word over another, to have a character pick a particular food off a menu, or speak with a specific dialect. It is a choice to write simplistically and vaguely, or to overload the reader with details of everything the characters see and do. All of these decisions, no matter how significant, is a reflection of the author and the entire work. Each choice is there to serve a purpose, every decision, every word, every action, serves a function. What that function may be differs from author to author, from work to work. However, if the author finds him or herself unable to fully and adequately answer any “why’s” pertaining to their works, they were not working with enough intention.

Language is both one’s greatest defense and most harrowing weapon; it should be used intentionally and wisely. Unfortunately that task is difficult, frustrating, and sometimes unrewarding. For no matter how much intention is placed into a work, whether a reader believes it or interprets it the way it was intended is another matter entirely.