Write Right

A Sumerian cuneiform tablet. Interestingly enough, the Sumerians of Mesopotamia had no set writing format. They could write in either columns or rows, from right to left or left to right, or from top to bottom and vice versa, making it difficult for readers and historians to decode the written message. Don’t quote me on that though; it’s just what I remember from sixth grade.

Writing was a major milestone in human development.  Instead of guessing at how many llamas were usually traded for three pounds of salt, humans were suddenly able to document their trade records in a way that was pretty much unprecedented.  Today we use writing for everything from attempting to brainwash the masses (advertising), toying with the emotions of the public (novels, television scripts, ect.), and expressing our deepest innermost secrets (tumb(lr)ling).  So thank you Mesopotamia (I think) for starting an incredibly useful and inconceivably meaningful system of conveying ideas that has traveled from your ancient stone tablets to my slightly outdated laptop.

So I think we can all agree that writing is important, but it’s really a wonder why we don’t do it more often.  Maybe it’s because we associate it too much with school and essays, and teenagers tend to resist that kind of structure and format.  Maybe it’s because it’s not always easy to transfer what’s in your head onto a sheet of paper, especially if you’re being told to do it in twenty five minutes, five paragraph format, don’t forget to sprinkle in some pretentious vocabulary while you’re at it.  But that’s not what makes writing magical.  That’s what makes it sometimes tedious, and at most practical.  Writing effortlessly and writing beautifully is a talent that I’ve always wanted to possess.  But sometimes you just have to let go of your preconceptions and just bash on your keyboard like I’m doing now.  Ban the backspace button (now I make some exceptions to that rule for the sake of grammar, but you know what I mean).  So if this paragraph seems completely incoherent, that’s because it is.  But it doesn’t matter because at least I’m writing (instead of doing my math homework).  We did this activity in English where we were given a list of quotes from Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities and required to write a precisely one hundred word story incorporating one of the given quotes.  (Naturally, I decided to write about the undead.)  Although there’s a lot of interesting implications to be discussed in that assignment, what I liked most is that you were given a very small requirement and the rest was simply up to your imagination.  That’s what writing is; that’s what writing should be.  You should be able to take something and run with it until you fall off a cliff.  A little morbid of a metaphor, but it’s late and I can’t think of anything better.  So with that I’d like to leave anyone listening with a few words that may spark the author in you: “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!”

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.



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