The Importance of Words and the Creative Medium.
Creative producers (like me) ply their craft by inventing a space, a moment for the reader to immerse themselves in. A reader will open a book, a film-buff will visit a cinema, some love live theatre. In each case, the reader or audience unconsciously agree to believe what they see or read. This phenomenon is ‘a willing suspension of disbelief’ because, of course, the reader or audience know full-well what they see, hear or read is the fictional imagining of a creative brain.
Creative producers work very hard to make their imagined vision as believable as they can. For most, their medium is words (for some it’s visual representations) and it got me thinking about how creatively the writer puts across their vision. For most creative writers, their ‘currency’ is in words. It is also likely most writers write about things they know; they write about the communities, the environment and the types of people they know. They’re unlikely to transfer it verbatim into what they write, but they will almost certainly influence the colour and tone of their writing.
Writers ‘deal’ in words. They are the tools of the writers’ trade and most writers think long and hard before they carefully select which words to use.
Some words are ‘bread and butter’ foundation words – the definite article (‘the’) is a prime example. Some words have different meanings, sometimes depending on where in the world they are used. At other times, it’s more a question of the area’s vernacular.
To give a simple example, where I live (Yorkshire), it’s common to bid someone ‘goodbye’ by saying: ‘see you later’. If you move a mere matter of 30 miles or so, the vernacular changes to ‘see you after’. It’s a single word difference, but when I first heard someone say ‘see you after’, my reaction was to question after what? It stumped me for a while and I’m ‘Yorkshire’ born and bred! I’m sure you can think of many other examples!
A word we’re hearing a lot of lately is the word ‘truth’. I got to thinking what the word actually means and whether the meaning or usage has changed.
The English Dictionary definition of ‘truth’ means having the quality of being true. This only helps if you know what the word ‘true’ means, so I looked up the meaning for ‘true’, and the dictionary definition is ‘accurate, correct, verifiable, exact’. To illustrate, I’ll digress by way of an anecdote.
I recently self-published my first novel (‘Another Arbor’) and when I was tying myself up in knots over formatting and sizing, one thing I made sure to do was to include a catch-all disclaimer. Anyone reading my book knows from the first page the contents are entirely imaginary, including all characters, events, descriptions and dialogue.
I worked long and hard to produce the end result. The point is my novel is a fictional construct. It’s a made-up story, not a memoir.
Over recent months (Lockdown has been a great ‘leveller’), various online discussions have centred on ‘my’, ‘his’, ‘her’ or ‘their’ ‘truth’. If we are sticking with the dictionary definition of ‘the truth’ or ‘what is ‘true’, it should equate to something accurate, exact and verifiably correct?
What it should not mean is a version of events as the person putting ‘their truth’ forward would like it to be. In my day, we used to call this ‘wishful thinking’. Not for a minute is ‘wishful thinking’ in the same category as ‘true, accurate, exact or verifiably correct’. Put bluntly – there is a big difference between ‘what you would like’ happening, and what in verifiable fact does and/or did happen.
Creative writers a variety of resources to inspire ideas for what they produce. I myself will often use the news and media as a source and springboard for considered and provocative material. A famous writer from the past (I think Mark Twain) remarked that to be a writer, you must first be a reader. This must be true, and most days, I’ll spend time trawling through all kinds of reading matter – gossip columns, ‘Celebrity’ news, global affairs much of it rife with outlandish claims and accusations. I have to confess the more outlandish, weird or fantastic, the more intriguing I find it!
Often, you will find someone will play the ‘victim’ card, or harangue someone else as the cause of their troubles. Another frequent occurrence is for them to shout from the rooftops their ‘human rights’ have been breached. How much credence these ‘victims’ are accredited is debatable. A friend once suggested a correlation between their bank balance or ‘celebrity status’ inversely with the veracity of what they are complaining about! I’m not sure I agree, but we are still friends!
In all of this conjecture, please don’t misunderstand me! To mistreat anyone in any way is entirely wrong. At best, it is misguided; on the other end of the scale, outright pernicious bullying. If factually correct, redress for that wrong or mistreatment should be forthcoming. Such an outcome should be just, measured and balanced.
In an ideal world, there would be factual identification of the particular right or wrong, justification or otherwise. Thereafter, a thorough examination of the accurate facts of the matter would lead to an equitable outcome. Howsoever settled, there should be a proper conclusion, rather than jumping on a bandwagon all sympathetic towards the ‘poor you’.
After all, the moral of the story is just because someone cries wolf, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is one; if you ‘cry wolf’ too often, people cease to believe you, so when there is a wolf, no-one will bother to attempt a rescue.
Monday, 23rd January 2023