by David Sharp
The older I get, the more I appreciate simplicity. The word itself has a musical quality to it, doesn't it? I do find that particular arrangement of syllables rather melodic, but the true value of the word is in its meaning.
It's liberating. It's the difference between walking into a room you have forgotten you cleaned, and walking into the chaotic disarray that is the usual state of my home. (Sometimes when I survey the clutter of laundry and toy dinosaurs and broken crayons, I wonder if I'll notice a guy in red and white stripes with a walking stick wandering through.)
|This is exactly what my desk never looks like|
But simplicity is not my normal state. I have a habit of making things harder than they need to be. That includes my writing. I mull over the perfect phrasing. I hold staring contests with my computer for twenty minutes at a time before I type a word. Of course, it is inevitably the wrong word because after all that build-up, what can I write that will live up to the expectation?
The trouble is that the perfect way to say something is usually to just say it. I tell stories every day to family and friends, and only rarely do I stare at them for twenty minutes to compose my thoughts. During the editing process, I often wonder why I used twenty words to say what I could have said with five. The problem? I confuse quality with complexity. I think that if I overindulge in poetic language and compound sentence structure, then my readers will stop what they are doing, wipe a tear from their eyes and declare in a loud voice, "This is the most exquisitely composed sentence I have ever read!" In truth, my writing has only evoked that kind of reaction two or three times at most.
In my opinion, complex writing is uninviting at best, condescending at worst. Either way, it's nothing I want to read. Simplicity in style is often refreshing and engaging. Maybe that's why so many books written for younger audiences become popular with adults too. Seriously, try not to smile at Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin.
|Okay, even simplicity can go too far. |
I mean, who arranges paperclips?
What are your thoughts? Do you have any favorite authors who have either a simple or complex style?