The vanity of authorship

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What is it they say?  Oh, yes - there is a fine line between genius and stupidity.  This sums-up chapter 6 pretty nicely.  Cappon's point: If you're not confident about where that stunning line of prose you've just concocted falls on the brilliancy-scale, scrap it and try again.  But this is one of those easy said, not so easy to do situations.  We writers often like the sound of our own words.  George Orwell once made a list of writer motives with the number one motive being sheer egoism.  I know it might sound harsh, but the truth usually is.  Orwell attributed this quality to a "desire to seem clever."  He also said, "Serious writers ... are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money."  Now, without taking his comment too seriously, he likely meant there is something in the imaginative-writer - not labeling journalist unimaginative - that fancies a grandiose language and aims for it often.   A burdensome chore it then becomes to discard beloved phrases.

 I know there've been instances in which I've invested so much into a particular sentence or thought that I, so badly, wanted to make work in a space where it had no place being.  Within these moments of what Cappon calls "Fine Writing," a writer might compromise the quality of their work for a creative-fix.  As I read Cappon's critique, I couldn't help but feel a bit embarrassed by the flaws he highlights, which I am guilty of.  I'm forgetful when writing that what I'm saying could carry over in cryptic-bursts, unless someone has mindreading capabilities.  All the pieces are there, in my head, but it's easy to forget: just because I get it (the words on the paper) doesn't ensure others will see my intent so clearly.

Luckily Cappon suggests what to be mindful of in terms of tone:

            Don't jump from informal to formal mid article.

                Don't be too informal.

                Don't make unseemly comparisons (Pairing Death with Humor is a no, no).

                Don't put readers in shoes they can't fit (Starting a sentence with "If you've ever" is risky).

                Don't forget the context of the story (When going for serious leave out silly oddities).

                Don't insinuate with nuances (NO winks, leers or nudges).

                Don't insert emotive words.  Let the evidence stand alone.

                Don't force style and tone for effect.

DO embrace simplicity.

Class Thoughts


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