I read an apocalyptic article on an economic blog the other day. I also read two hundred comments that followed the article. It doesn’t matter what the article was about; the following comments could apply to any written article in any medium. Commenter “Zen4fiatsoes” said:
“Be careful of anyone who uses more words than needed to say what they mean.”
Another commenter, “GoldenIdols” said:
“Orwell wrote a very useful essay about political writing and the dishonesties in it. Among other things, he explains that so often the lie is in the adjective. Be very, very careful with adjectives, and avoid them if at all possible.”
These two comments stuck in my mind and I wondered about my own writing. I use adjectives and adverbs in my blog posts. I wondered what “Zen4fiatsoes” would think about my post Masquerading as My Mother? Would he or she think my post was superfluous? Every Thursday, I create a post called “Minimalist.” I post a picture and write very few words. Can the picture speak for itself without my prodding? Would “GoldenIdols” still think I was a dishonest writer in less than 100 words?
These are the questions I consider as I sit down to write in the morning.
This weekend in New England, we had another storm. It was different; the snow didn’t fall all at once, like it did during last weekend’s “Blizzard of 2013.” The snow started Saturday morning, spitting slowly and gradually. At noon that day, the snow had lessened and it seemed like the sun was going to break through. The snow picked up again at dusk and continued through the evening. Perhaps because it was a holiday weekend and no one was in a hurry, there wasn’t much traffic on the roads. I was motoring happily.
On Sunday morning, I took a walk.
The Damariscotta Baptist Church is a New England icon, photographed often for postcards and travel guides. There’s even a turn off on the main road for travelers who want to pull over and take pictures of it. One of the church’s former pastors described it as an “object of beauty.”
If I had read the church’s history Sunday morning, I might have been enticed to attend services based partly on the “cred” of the church’s founders and the building’s classical beauty. Full of thoughts about extraneous and misleading Orwellian words, I decided instead to attend a church service in a Grange Hall.
Like any pilgrim, I am working out my salvation and my writing with fear and trembling.