Thursday, May 27, 2004
Five more days
I'm starting my work day with an entry instead of waiting until I have something to say, so just be warned.
As I was writing yet another message to the EIC of Rose & Thorn (one of the last few I shall ever have to write) that I stop when I'm about to say something iffy. I've noticed it before, but today it dawned on me that I have to do that less and less these days.
While editing some time ago I was correcting yet another author's constant use of passive voice and writing another note to the effect that passive voice slows the pace and makes ponderous what should clip along like a high speed monorail. I thought, that's what I should do with my own writing, not the fiction, but in communication with people. Too often, especially in the current all pervasive atmosphere of politically correct and viscerally absent language, we couch our phrases in terms of I think or maybe when we know exactly what we want to say but we are so fearful of stepping on someone's toes. Being blunt and honest and straight to the point has become something to fear instead of a virtue. At that moment I realized I was tired of being careful and just wanted to say what I thought, the things and feelings I hid deep inside like some fugitive from Nazi Germany.
In effect, by kowtowing to PC language we have given up the right to be forthright and honest and to let people know what we really think and feel. No wonder our world is in such a mess with everyone tiptoeing around everyone else afraid to give offense and no one really saying anything.
So I decided not to use wimpy words to soften the blow of what I have to say about anything. That doesn't mean I don't employ a little tact. What it does mean is that I say what I think even if you're not going to like it. I'm not abusive or rude, just definite and clear. I still keep some things to myself, but not because I'm afraid to say them. I just prefer to take the time to figure out the right time. In other words, I don't burn a bridge until after I cross it.
Stop and think how many times you write "maybe you should" or "I'm not quite sure, but..." in emails and letters and even when you speak to someone. Be bold. Take the world and your words by the horns and say what you really think and what you really mean. If everyone was truthful and didn't worry about spin or telling a jerk that he could win the Olympics with his vulgar mouth and crass attitude, I doubt we'd have as many problems as we do here and abroad. Granted, some people aren't going to like you for bucking the system, for using clear, concise and razor sharp words to say what you mean instead of the inflated, pompous, high sounding, but full of hot air and devoid of meaning words that pass for truth in politically correct circles, but you will have a clear conscience and everyone will know where you stand. Honesty isn't a license to be rude or hurtful. Honesty is a license to stand up and be counted.
Personally, I'd prefer bald to follicularly challenged if my hair were absent from the crown of my head and shones like a brand new billiard ball. I don't even mind being called fat. I am. But I am also voluptuous, sensuous, sensual, and, most important of all, unforgettable. So is the Venus de Milo and the Statue of Liberty. Get over it. Stop hiding behind empty words and say exactly what you mean. Don't let the politically correct faction take the beauty, strength, and power of simple, direct, honest words from you. If you do, you will end up with . . . an empty world full of prickly oversensitive people who are just looking for a chance to call you out, take you to court, or just cause trouble. If you're going to get slapped in the face at least be slapped for something you did say instead of something you almost, but not quite, really weren't sure you said.
So every time you start to write or say, or even think, possibly, maybe, might, could be or the like, stop, rewind or backspace, and say what you mean, what you're thinking. Take the IF out of your language. You either mean what you say or you don't. Life IS or it ISN'T; there is no in between.