Marchbooks' Blog

October 26, 2009

An Insane Ban On Words

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 4:01 pm
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I have always had a love affair with words. Even before I began writing with a purpose, I was enmored with the use of words, both written and spoken, to convey my thoughts. Conversation can be so colorful with just an occasional dash from a broadened vocabulary. The right word can make you see the vibrant color in a fall leaf, smell the salt in an ocean breeze or taste the first snow flake of the season on your tongue. Even the clunkier, less elegant inhabitants of the dictionary serve a purpose. That is why it so infuriates me to see a campaign, to ban words, such as the one shown below.

To me, this is the equivalent of banning building blocks from toy stores. True, words hurt and there are certain words; racial slurs, swears, etc. that do not add much to any dialogue but, in the right circumstance or setting, even they can serve a purpose. The ban in question, however, goes beyond the pale. Teenager, homeless and American are just a few of the words that are targeted to be banned.

You might say to yourself, who cares? After all, they can’t exactly arrest you for calling your son a teenager. But, what they are talking about here is excluding these words from school text books. I have to wonder if this energy couldn’t be rechanneled to a more worthwhile cause. Our school children are having to deal with drugs, sex and violence in their schools. Will the banning of these select words serve to improve their school experience – I doubt it. In almost all cases, they are only replacing one, succinct, word with a cumbersome three word phrase. Yes, that would be our definition of progress.


August 14, 2009

The Beauty of The Written Word

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 12:10 pm
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Ahhhh, words. Ever since the first Egyptian put the first letter on the first piece of papyrus, the beauty and utility of the written word could not be denied. The advent of words on paper, as a way to disseminate information, has arguably been more important to the evolution of mankind than any other invention. It is, in many ways, the mother of knowledge and creativity. Certainly, mankind is infinitely creative. But, where would we be if that creativity had to survive in a vacuum? How many of Edison’s inventions would have gone unrecognized if he had been unable to write them down, unable to convey them to more than his housekeeper and the local shop owners? How many great ideas would have died with their originator, if they had been unable to write them down?

Certainly, seeing one’s words in print is a swan song that calls out to many – as evidenced by the ever-increasing number of books being published every year. Being able to share one’s thoughts, feelings and ideas with others has incredible appeal for some. Others are just as ravenously waiting to read those thoughts and insights. It is a marriage made in heaven – a special kind of bonding that brings us all closer together.

The physical beauty of a book cannot be overlooked. A book’s inviting cover, the intoxicating smell of ink on the page and the satisfying crack of the spine as you initiate your first journey through its pages is something that every book lover has come to cherish. As much as the new internet and wireless technologies have to offer information sharing, nothing can compete with the feel of a real book in your hand as you settle down (bedecked in your flannel jammies) in front of a roaring fire with a nice glass of wine or mug of hot chocolate. The reading experience is a vibrant one, on many levels.

To me, however, the real beauty of the written word lies in the magic. When an author has managed to create a world, dragging me into it (sometimes kicking and screaming)… ahhhh, words. What an amazing thing it is when you can stand beside a character as they charge across the desert on a new adventure. Or, when you can puzzle out a murder mystery with one of New York’s finest. The author can take you on a journey with an anguished mother whose son has been abducted by a predator or on a blossoming love affair between two lonely people. They can take you inside the head of a psychopath, a 13-year-old autistic girl or a destitute mother trying to survive with her three young children in their 1983 Chevy. Wherever or whenever the author takes me, the true magic happens when that author’s writing touches my emotions: when I am holding my breath in suspense, crying at the loss of a beloved character or laughing out loud at the irony of life. That is the beauty of the written word – let it live on forever.

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