Monday, 6 February 2012

Cheap Words

It happens, sometimes, that a theme starts to nag. When a theme starts to nag it becomes the one thing that everyone in the world world seems to be talking about, the topic at hand in our daily Bible readings, and the haunting lullaby of our dreams. 

Well, I am having one of those. 

No, it isn't a revelation or epiphany of any great weight or import, so you may relax. I have not, I don't think, been given the answer to life, the universe and everything. That remains the number 42 and the Alpha Course (which now owns the Bible, I see).

Words, kids; words. 

I have thinking about words. This came from a passing comment from a luminary theologian who lives on the manor when I asked him for some material for something I am planning. He said that he didn't but a friend of his is likely to have what I sought "in a draw drawer". Oh, said I, that's great; he can email it over (the geezer lived in the land of Mandela and Table Mountain). No, David, these are words on a page, in a large file - properly and literally "in a draw". 

And so the nagging started - words; words; words. Words, those things that explode light onto our world. 

In my life, things are ordered on a device of the digital age. I type and I bluster for many hours a week (often for your edification, people, so listen up) typing and writing. The fact is, I am probably too fond of the sound of my own keyboard. What I write is either published in date order, or filed in the perplexity of files and sub-folders that are established on this here device and every thing has its place. I delete nothing and I file everything. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of words. 

It struck me that I probably wouldn't write half as much if I was at the mercy of the pen, quill or stylus. Actually, my handwriting had degraded to that of a doctor and is, therefore, illegible. Why? Because I never, ever, ever, write. I type. Or I write in capitals. The thing is, I hate writing as an literal pastime. My forearm aches, I am left-handed so smudge each syllable off of the page as I write it, I make an appalling mess because my spelling is atrocious (you will have noted that already, regular digesters of this offal) - and so in the days when I had to write, I just didn't unless I had to. The age of the Amstrad word processor, the home computer and then latterly the blog has given me lease of writing life that would have remained suppressed otherwise. Now I love writing, but only when it is to the chaotic drumbeat of a keyboard. 

Once, monks toiled over parchments and then theologians sat in studies scribbling on to pads of paper. That all took far longer, each words crafted and prayed over. Every scintilla of every iota of every little bit of word was deliberate for Tippex wasn't invented, let alone the delete-button. This leaves one question, the question of my nag:

Are words cheaper because they can be mass-produced?


  1. I don't think that works are cheaper due to the keyboard, but they are more verbose and reach you everywhere.

    I like you, seldom write these days. So the prospect of filling in the BAP Registration form was a nightmare. However, Min Div helpfully provided a link that I could download the electronic version from - Good for them.

    Now is says, 'summarise briefly' if I was handwriting it, given the space provided, it would be very brief. But Word documents with stretching table formats are very forgiving. Now I have to weed out the chaff I've put in there, leaving the golden ears of wheat.

    What I need is 'word discipline' to stop the waffle and to be precise. It'll come, but not before I've had my wrist slapped a few time methinks.

  2. I find that electronic writing requires no less care or thought than hand-writing (mine, like yours, is now all but illegible). I don't know about you but I review, delete, revise endlessly - in a way that I may not bother to do if using pen & paper. And think of all the trees we're saving....

  3. I think it's great that the words of ordinary people like me and my fellow bloggers can reach a wider audience thanks to the internet, so, no, I don't think words have become cheaper.

    I still sketch out ideas for blog posts on an A4 pad before writing them on the computer, but that's because I don't have a laptop or iPad and often have ideas for posts in the comfort of my bed. :-) When I started I even wrote out the whole post before typing it, but those days are long gone. I'm another who files and doesn't delete very much too....

  4. Have you ever noticed that those who have their finger on the pulse of cosmic truth tend to say a whole lot with only a few words? eg the Dalai Lama, a favourite Tweeter of mine, just passes on a short phrase and my whole world is set right for the day.
    Then of course there are yabberers like me who just like to prattle on about all kinds of things from the very deep to the extremely banal-I tend to like my banal contributions to blogger land much more- ordinary is good.
    But working in isolation for 70% of my week makes blogging an essential past time to connect with the world whether they read it or not

  5. David,

    All the best people are left handed! OH and I are both left handed yet neither the son nor daughter are!

    Not sure what that says about our offspring, but we love 'em anyway.

  6. Oh dear! How can someone who can competently spell 'atrocious' and 'scintilla' not know that the word 'draw' is a verb, the relevant noun being 'drawer'! (You can't keep stuff in a verb!)

    I ask only out of love and concern, and as one who still has RSI from typing up your GCSE piece on Hitler all those countless years ago.

    (Pixie - Maybe two wrongs don't make a right but two lefts make a right. That's a right write, no? - Sorry)

  7. DaNG, yOU is write about my Kelsey Grammer.




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