To Write Well

“To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man.” – Aristotle

This I need to learn. I like to think I express myself with precision, but while my seal of approval is fine when I’m expressing myself to myself, that is when I am reading and writing for the consumption of my eyes only, I can’t imagine it translates terribly well for others.

How do I write anyway? I haven’t really thought about this question in a while. For a time all I could think about was the poetics of proper expression. More recently I’ve temporarily given up my efforts to produce quality style in exchange for my attempts to simply flush out quality ideas envolume.

I’m sure this has worked to the detriment of communicating with clarity. I can’t very well go inside the head of others. How am I to know if my words are strung together in the syntax best suited for their eyes and ears? I can only hope they’d ask me to pause and elaborate on a point. All I know is that, when I reread what I write, it appears to retain the same glow with which it left my mind, most of the time anyway.

But I know this is wrong. I know this is wrong because when I take time to read what I wrote in the past, I cringe. My stomach tightens and my face contorts with disapproval as I pan through my hackneyed prose, my jumbled thoughts, my overly rococo verbal garnishes. See? I did it again.

How to write well. Hm. I bet it starts with a good idea. Right? Surely you must have something worth saying, no? From here, I bet how it is you say it matters most. You voice. They always talk about finding your voice in writing. I never understood what that meant until I tried acting, or adopting personalities in my head to do the talking. Then it seemed that the words, the manner and style in which I wrote, seemed to just flow through me. I’d reread it and give myself a half smug smile of assurance and astonishment. Of course I’d be quietly asking myself whether those were actually my words, did that really come out of me?

Sometimes I read my writing and I can’t remember ever thinking those thoughts before. It’s like I was temporarily possessed, or developed a phantom consciousness that took control of my figures and had at it with the key board.

To express plainly. For the common man. Is that right, Mr. Aristotle? Well, that probably means small, tiny words. And shrimpy lines of digestible text. All wrapped in the plainest punctuation and grammar. Blah.

What if the man most common in my circles just so happens to be an intellectual? Does that give me warrant to create torrents of tenacious prose that poetically pierces the present perceptions of men? I hope so. I want to use; weird grammar; write in: serries of sibylline sentences— touchstones of sententious song; and string slews of slack-jawed sightseers together as an inaudible audience.

Express myself like common people? Does he know how common people communicate today? Boi. Dat wud be a hard thing to do. Talkin like my home boyz and gurlz on facebook. Girlz be lookin so hot and sexy. I say dam gurl. Wut you say Airistottle? I can express myself. Wat you want to kno? I like the Titans and Miami heat. I love A n E realaty tv. My boyz an me are tite fo lyfe. ya hur?

I know that’s not how it generally goes, but the idea of adopting another voice that appears virtually void of any serious reflection before it speaks is a difficult task. Anyway. I’m tired fooling around. It’s late. More to think and do and write tomorrow.

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