"I think you’ve managed, quite unwittingly, to inspire perhaps the longest blog comment ever, courtesy of Ink!" (Special K
, comment from Dantallion
's blog, Feb. 3, 2006)
"I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short."
"Be brief, for no discourse can please when too long." (Miguel de Cervantes)
Hi. My name is "ink" and I'm a word junkie.
It all started when I was a baby. My Mum talked and read to my brother and me ALL THE TIME, and there were books EVERYWHERE in our house: cookbooks, novels, home repair manuals, magazines, picture books, you name it. With all that temptation around, I suppose it was inevitable that I got turned on to words before I could even walk, and started reading when I was around three. I didn't have a chance. I was hooked ....
And now look at me.
Some of you might have noticed that I am, well, a bit long-winded. I admit it, freely if not with pride. This reality has been forceably brought to my attention on more than one occasion ... strike that ... People tell me this, one way or another, a lot. My problem, you see, is not
that I'm hopelessly pompous (pompous, yes, but not HOPELESSLY pompous!), but simply that I am addicted to words. I am entranced by their sound, their look, their rhythm and nuance. I am fascinated by the architecture of language, absorbed by the nuts and bolts of grammar and punctuation, and excited by the evolution of meaning and the continuous drift of pronunciation.
But this seemingly harmless habit is ... well ... not. Harmless, I mean. Because
in a society which sees speed as a virtue in itself, in which the art of discourse and rhetoric have been replaced by the sound-bite and bullet points, brevity has indeed become "the soul of wit"(Shakespeare) - even at the expense of meaning. So, what's a word junkie to do?
Mostly, I ignore the world and continue on my own idiosyncratic way. I write full sentences (including salutations) in my e-mails; I bore people to tears over lunch with descriptions of mnemonic layering in "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" (hey, if they didn't want to hear it, they shouldn't have invited me, right?); I elaborate, explain and explore in depth the most trivial of matters; and, more often than not, I provide way more information than people are looking for.
But, I am also, sad to say, a working stiff, with a job to do and bosses to please. So, I have learned ... slowly and painfully, 'tis true ... how to be brief. I have learned to summarize, to work in point form, to edit and eliminate and delete. It takes me a while, but if I put my mind to it, I CAN be reasonably succinct. I can even (with my teeth gritted, and a growl in my throat) write bullet points if the occasion demands it.
You see, I have decided to look on brevity as a challenge -- to express, in the most elegant and efficient way, that which needs to be said. I am, in short, in search of my inner-pith.
So, wish me well on my journey into the linguistic hinterland. It could take awhile, but I hope, someday, to stand here before you as a reformed (if not recovered) word junkie.
P.S. For the record, that is not the longest comment I've ever made on someone else's blog. I think the record goes to the post entitled "Tragically Lived
" on Sister StaceyPatrick