Monday, October 6, 2014

Less is More

Post by Jenny

y older son attended his homecoming dance last weekend. I don’t know how the other high schools are doing things these days, but my son’s school does not enlist the services of a photographer at the dance. (Maybe my son will get to experience staged awkwardness next to faux palm trees at a prom in the near future.) Instead, the young men and ladies “get” to kick off the evening by enduring a lengthy photo shoot in front of a sizeable group of mamarazzi (moms with cameras).

Yes, I was among them, snapping away. In this digital age, there’s no such thing as taking one or two photos, so I took twenty. And, judging by the fervor of some of the other mothers, I was one of the more moderate ones. I’ll select a few of my favorites for a scrapbook—if I ever get my act together—but the rest will hang out on my hard drive in perpetuity, chillin’ with my thousands of other photos.

With digital images being a dime a dozen, I find that I appreciate, more than ever, a single perfect picture. Not a lucky shot from a smart phone but a real photograph taken with a real camera by a real professional, demonstrating skill and planning and execution. Not just a chronicle of one moment among many, but a true example of artistic expression—the kind of picture I’d love to take someday.

Never before has the written word been so easy to churn out, either. I can hardly imagine what the medieval scribes, who labored over each letter, would make of our ability to instantaneously share every thought with nearly every corner of the world. I’m not sure if they would be envious or dismayed.

As with the photos, this glut of words makes me appreciate great writing even more. By this I mean the sentences that are not thrown together for a quick blog post or even quicker tweet but the ones that are crafted and polished until they are the perfect balance of what is said and what is left unsaid. The sentences that resonate and make me want to read the next one and the next. The kind of sentences I’d love to write someday.

What helps you bring quality, not just quantity, to your writing?


Sarah Sullivan said...

Well said! I couldn't agree more. We live in interesting writing times where so much of what we read is just spit out rather artlessly without much thought. There certainly is a place for it, but I do so enjoy the well crafted sentence and sometimes fear that we will lose it.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jenny! I certainly agree. It's one of the reasons I admire the author Ivan Doig. Most of the sentences in his books are so beautifully rendered, they're like works of art.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I have an editor to please, and she's a very strict instructor. I strive for quality to keep her from smacking me across the knuckles with her ruler.

Dean K Miller said...

I venture back to Kurt Vonnegut now and then to enjoy his style of stately prose. So many times we read a sentence that makes us stop for all the wrong reasons. But when one makes you stop because of its simple beauty, that is bliss.

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