Say Nothing In 750 Words Or Fewer

How many words have come tumbling out of my mouth over these 28 long years? How many pages and countless pages of email and story and essay have I churned out? For all of it, what have I really actually gotten said? And, in the end, how much of it was totally unnecessary?

I am continually astonished at the way I can whittle a first draft of a story from, say, two-and-a-half pages to just a mere simple one — without cutting a single bit of information out. You’d think you’d be losing something in the paring down, sacrificing some essential bits of context or at least a few telling details, right? Nope. It’s like an onion with no core. You just peel and peel and the tears are rolling on down and you’re sniffling into your shirtsleeve and figuring out, finally, that there’s no heart to any of it. Only layers.

So much of what we say and write is superfluous or merely repetitive. It leads me to wonder how many of the words and thoughts and ideas that are right at this VERY MOMENT! being flung about the universe are doing little else than distracting everybody and contributing to the general semantic bloat.

I’d wager most conversations or or stories or philosophical threads of thought could probably be expressed in just a simple sentence or two. In fact, it’s an old journalist’s conceit: if you can’t tell your editor what your story is about in one sentence, then you don’t know yourself. But, really. Haven’t you ever felt like that at the end of a long book or movie? Just, that sense of ‘Hey, could you really not have told me that in a breath or two?’ Or when you’ve gotten trapped in conversations with people who won’t shut up but are in the end saying almost nothing of importance or interest? I always end up feeling sorta resentful and cheated and exhausted at the end. Like my time was wasted.

Where is the synthesis, people?? The pithiness? Can someone please explain to me why my brain is so full of words and so devoid of information? You have 30 seconds. GO!

Now, a truncated redo of the blog posting above, in keeping with that whole brevity thing:

Paragraph 1: I’ve said a lot of meaningless things.

Paragraph 2: See Para. 1

Paragraph 3: Other people have also said a lot of meaningless things.

Paragraph 4: Everyone is wasting everyone else’s time.

Paragraph 5: Let’s all shut up.

Further thoughts on the subject, writ rather more elegantly:

George Orwell: Politics And The English Language

New Bad Things Lyrics: Goethe’s Letter To Vic Chesnutt

Do You Talk Too Much, by Marty Nemko (I don’t even know what this article is really about. I just think Marty Nemko is awesome-looking.)


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