A pen is my weapon of choice to take into whatever battle I feel compelled to write about at any time. This pen can create problems it will never be able to erase, but can only write until there is a resolution. The pen is more powerful than any firearm or blade if used properly. Words can be the sole determining factor in how people perceive one another; use them eloquently regardless of intellect, and people assume genius. Use words sophomorically, and people assume asininity.
The reason it is the pen that is so powerful and not just words alone is because words can be spoken. Once a word is spoken it cannot be retracted, but when words are written they can be revised and perfected.
Writing is a craft, an art. Anyone can do it, but to do it well is laborious and time-consuming. Being a good writer doesn’t mean that other people enjoy reading your work, but it is enjoying the activity and believing that what you are writing is good and has meaning.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m a great writer. I have a thesaurus to help me find words that roll off the tongue better than the simpler ways of describing things. Robin Williams’ character in The Dead Poet’s Society had a quote that has always stuck with me through every essay I’ve ever written, every poem, every sentence.
“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.”
I’ve played the part of a brokenhearted jester many a time, before knowing that a pen was a weapon I used it as a mere tool to construct balladry in an attempt to make women fall in love with me. That’s not how it works.
I was young then, and I know now that poetry is written to release whatever is trapped in the confines of the soul. Not only that, but I’ve branched out to other forms of writing; prose, reflection, journalism. Every form of writing has its own equally important purpose.
Poetry is to humanize us, to expose that underneath the skin we are all the same and we all have the same feelings and longings in this life and that is happiness and love. But in longing for these we all go through the same depressions and heartbreaks.
Prose is to relate, to tell a story that cannot go without being told. Stories have been used as entertainment for centuries, dating back to the oral recitations of the Iliad and Odyssey. They entertain us, they enlighten us, and they empower us. Homer sang to the muses for inspiration so that these stories could be told to inspire all who heard them, and we are still inspired today from all works of literature past and present.
Journalism is knowledge. It is reporting the facts so that the public can form their own opinion. Without journalism there is no knowledge, because without spreading facts there are no informed opinions.
Reflection is the ability to question what is and what might be in a thoughtful manner. These are the workings of the great philosophers Nietzsche, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Marx, and others. They take what is known and what is not known to explain why things are.
Writing is not only a hobby, but it is important to us as a human race. I can paint myself as a warrior carrying a torch with my pen held high on the flagship of language, but that would be the definition of an exaggeration. I like to call myself a writer.
I say I like to call myself a writer rather than saying, “I am a writer” because Pat Conroy is a writer. Mark Twain is a writer. F. Scott Fitzgerald is a writer. Louis L’amour. Harper Lee. John Steinbeck. George Orwell. Ernest Hemingway. Walt Whitman. William Wordsworth. John Keats. William Blake. Edgar Allan Poe. Those are writers. I am a young man who likes to write. I love to write. And that’s what I’m doing.