In the modern consciousness, writers are pristinely passionate. Layfolk imagine us hunched over typewriters, cigarettes dangling loosely from our lips as we stab relentlessly at reluctant keys, our fingers the sluggish lackeys of sprinting minds. They attribute our genius to our alcoholism, as if our artistic souls have been bathed in and purified by the sweet nectars of whiskey and self–criticism.
I find myself leaning on worn crutches: hokey colloquialisms, the thickened modulations of alliteration, sticky–sweet send–offs. My dependency on linguistic laziness is, in fact, an endearing attribute in much of my trade. It lends a sweet “Aw, shucks, mister” guffaw to my stories of the South and a loquacious banter to editorial recountings of restaurants and resorts. And when it comes to marketing and copywriting, I soar; my sweet–talkin’, word–slangin’ soliloquies reach an intentionally excessive peak. I slather on the jargon and verbal eyebrow raises and elbow nudges so thick you can hardly see the actual product.
But that’s not who writers are. That’s not what we do. That’s not Hemingway so filled with the bubbling effervescence of words that he had to write standing up. That’s not Milton desperately dictating stanzas to slavish daughters, whose hands would cramp with the weight of their father’s words. That’s Emily roguishly tossing a rubber band ball up in the air, feet propped on a corporate desk and proffering passerby a knowing wink.
Which is why I am taking the leap, making the plunge, diving in head first with feet flailing and framed eyes open wide. I will be Milton, I will be Hemingway. I will write for passion, for love, of the craft.
Here, I will carve out the thick, tongued words of my soul. Here I will wrestle with new adjectives and diction, play with staccatoed sentences and slippery ideas. And here, I will write a new kind of story. A story for myself.