Monday, July 11, 2016

Weeping Willows Don't Curse

The Willows

My daughter used to say she hated writing.  She said writing was hokey and she didn’t want to write things like, “The weeping willows wave in the wind.”  When I asked her why she thought all writing was this way, she shrugged and laughed.

In my former life, I was a poetry writer.  A lot of them were bad, if not all of them. I realized they were awful and stopped.  While in my undergrad writing class, we were given the assignment of writing poetry, I cringed because:

  • Poetry and I have a love/hate relationship
  • The class was an undergrad elective.  The students would no doubt write some clichéd things

Lucifer is Not a Cliché

Our professor stressed to NOT write clichéd things. He didn’t want any cutesy rhyming things either.  If I recall, most of the student poetry was about some type of personal pain. It was no doubt cathartic for them, but tiresome for me to listen to.  However, I kept my critiques constructive and based on structure, not subject matter.

As for me -- I was over the pain of love and betrayal.  I was going to have some fun. Since I had spent years writing poetry, I didn’t need to think too much on structure, so I went for it.
Photo: A Syn

What came were either angry works or dark works.  I’m not in league with Lucifer, but what fun it was to write about him.

I didn’t care what my classmates thought, they all thought I was 2 cent short of a dollar anyway, so why not mess with them.

I take the same approach when writing prose.  I don’t spend times hiking or sitting on a grassy knoll listening to nature.  I live in a noisy city, with trucks rattling on the metal plates in the street, and loud obnoxious people cursing in several languages.

Are there weeping willows in my path? Sure, but I see homeless people more than I see trees, so that is what I write about.

Bad Language

If my character is contemporary they may utter a bad word or two.  The language doesn’t pepper my writing, but it is reality.  Most people I talk to curse. It would feel inauthentic for me to write a character who has spent 3 years on the street that doesn’t curse.  

I've heard it said that writers who use profanity do not know how to use language. I think that is not an accurate assessment of all writers. Some writers use profanity because the story calls for it, it is that simple.

I’m not a fan of writers who use synonyms for foul language.  Unless the characters is Opie, no one should be saying “aw shucks.”

Although, the majority of Contemporary Adult Fiction I read does not have excessive foul language, I’m pleased when an author actually uses the word in its pure form.

Write Your Reality -- or Not

If you are living the life of Thoreau, then by all means write about Willows, Elms and the Mighty Oak. Write whatever you want and whatever gets you going. Just write.

Recent Contemporary Short-Story
The Man With the Dog

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