There are dozens of ways to write and dozens (hundreds?) of people offering advice about the subject. But what does it really boil down to? Well, I tend to think it depends on what drives the individual. An outdoors-man who writes may draw inspiration from peaceful, natural settings. He may look at a tree, dead for twenty years and see some kind of beauty in its decay that fuels a story, a scene, a metaphor, or really just about anything. A writer on the corner of a New York intersection or inside a coffee shop may see something spectacular in the hustle of the ever noisy city.
But for me, inspiration, drive, entertainment, and my own edification comes in the form of something we use every day.
I am not an expert. I am not a teacher. Historian? No. I am not even college educated. I am twenty years old, I was home schooled, I read consistently, and I have some skill with a dictionary.
As I said, “home school.” My parents placed a great store in words and taught their children to do the same. Speaking well, clearly, and artistically is our daily goal. My goal more so now because of my chosen occupation.
It isn’t news that the day-to-day English language has exponentially deteriorated. Just listen to normal, everyday, home-loving adults carry on a conversation. Odds are you won’t hear a word you haven’t heard before and in some cases you will hear certain words of the quartet species used in close succession to one another. Okay, so English has deteriorated. From what? Statistics can tell you how many words are in our language, and the number is always growing.
But what have we lost?
Let me set up a few examples.
Crevice: A crack forming an opening.
This is a word I have not often heard, especially from people my age, though it isn’t rare.
Chine: A crack formed in rock by means of running water.
This is a word I have never heard out of any mouth but my own. It is an old word to the point of being archaic.
Earring: A piece of jewelry intended for the ear.
Eardrop: An earring with a dangling pendant.
Porch: An exterior appendage to a building, forming a covered approach to a vestibule or doorway.
Stoa: A portico. Usually a detached portico of considerable length.
Specificity. Knowing exactly the right word for the occasion and using it properly is something I have always enjoyed and strove for. I don’t hear a lot of detail in the way people speak today. Everything is in broad terms and some words that just aren’t that uncommon seem to have vanished entirely. It is the “Eye doctor” in stead of the “Oculist.” We might as well eliminate “Dentist” and replace him with a “Tooth doctor.” Not as if the term isn’t accurate, but it is unwieldy and graceless, even vulgar.
So lives on my intention to speak well and overall, write well. Punctuation is hardly my strength and anyone who has read my blog with a grasp of grammar may be appalled to note the misused commas and semicolons, but mostly commas.
Sitting in a spiral notebook are the words I have come across in the last 8-10 years that I didn’t understand. It is the English I wished to know and I work to achieve. Writing them down helps me to memorize them and remember that they exist so I can go look for something when I have a meaning in mind but not the word that goes with it.