Lessons in Writing From the Year That Was

Maybe next year as the luge screams down the ice in the Winter Olympics they’ll say the winner flashed by “as fast as 2017”. Aren’t these years getting quicker?

And as I contemplate what it was exactly that I achieved in this time-life compression, I nod with certainty that I saw a number trends in the field of writing emerge. Principally among them, the mass liquidation of copy editing in media with errors in punctuation, spelling and grammar thereafter, abounding in some masthead publications.

Fairfax Media alone, once the powerhouse of erudite news copy in Australia, cut more than 100 editorial jobs, while The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia’s public media domain cut a swathe through its programs and support. These were but two.

Rarely does a day go by now without some goof in a headline or story body. And I’m not just talking good ol’ “bunkering down”. I mean some amazing unintended double-entendres.

I won a battle of sorts with graphic artists earlier in the year though, finally pounding the nature of the apostrophe into their digitals: particularly in the case of date truncation. Yet, it remains an uphill campaign in the English-speaking world as artists, the supposedly independent thinking among us, put unwavering trust in their software rather than solid consideration and learning.

Talking of which, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture just the other day, written and presented by a 93-year-old woman whose message was a model of clarity:

When you learn you’re given a new life. When you learn the sun shines. When you stop learning the light fades. To learn, listen.

Yes, learning is life. And while writers, particularly in news and public relations, continue to spin their audiences they forget that effective communication is a factor of honesty and respect.

True writers, those who understand the concept of story, don’t succumb to a lowest common denominator instinct. Rather, they seek to lift their readerships to new levels of contemplation: levels that require that readers learn.

Just as with the art we see on a wall, discovery exists in the most obvious of interpretations. There’s an apple in a bowl on a table. But look behind it maybe. Look at the strokes or mediums forming it. Look at the light source employed. How about asking, why it’s even there? Great writers elicit that with words.

That’s where writing skill lives: be it by a novel, a news piece, a monologue, a market update or even a creative slogan.

Both writer and audience are the same and if listening is learning, true escape will always exist in the cadence of a well-crafted paragraph; yes, even a phrase.

© 2017 Adam Parker.