Sunday, 13 September 2009

Less is more

My father and I do constant battle with words. He uses too many of them. I might too. I like words.
My father would, however, be the first to admit that he suffers from "wordiness". He will use half a dozen words when one would do. Part of the problem is that he did a university degree in English. He followed it up by teaching English and then writing 'patter' for his own conjuring shows. He also helped other magicians write their patter. Patter is wordy. It is designed to distract as well as amuse.
Now, if he needs to write something, he will often ask me to review what he has written. It is often passed over with the words, "I suppose you will say I could say this in less." Yes.
Other people sometimes ask me to write things too. I have been known to dictate letters in the aisles of the local supermarket. I should not do this. It causes a trolley jam.
"I don't know how you do it," the recipient will tell me as they fold the shopping list - on which they have written - away.
I think I do know. It took me a long time to learn to write. The physical act of putting something on paper was frustratingly slow. The results were often barely legible. I had to work out the shortest way of saying something. My first attempts at typing were not much better. Even now I am tempted by the thought of one of those friendly, tireless dragons that will take dictation without complaint. I imagine myself writing entire books in a week - or less.
I will not succumb. My writing is better if my words cannot just tumble on to the page in reckless disorder. I am lazy. I need discipline.

3 comments:

Rachel Fenton said...

Perhaps you could conjure the words onto the page? I always spew out too many words and then have to prune them back into the shape I want - which works just grand for writing but less so in conversation. I often have to follow up my too many words with too many more in apology.

catdownunder said...

Oohhh, delicious thought Rachel. Just sit there and imagine the words and they would appear? There has to be a story in it!

Donna Hosie said...

I'm guilty of being too wordy as well, but I happen to like it that way. I love books that are rich and verbose. The weedy ones that have been trimmed too far do nothing for me.