Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Vernacular Warfare

For any writer serious about his craft, life is all about vernacular warfare. The objective is to capture a story in any number of forms and make sure it grabs people’s attention. Hopefully it will glue them to the text until the story ends. In a writer’s arsenal, also called his bag of tricks, this warrior of words carries the tools of his or her trade. It’s an armament of words to carry the emotions forward.

Like ancient Spartans rushing toward the enemy to engage in battle, writers use their weapons on hand. Out of their sheath, they draw words like swords, phrases like spears, nouns like battle axes, sentences like knives and clubs like exclamation points; all intended to do good to the receptive audience.

With great respect to our military and without belaboring the task ahead, writing is a craft or art form that demands constant attention to detail, a sense of the human condition and an imagination that tends to go where other minds seldom travel. In this case, a comment like ‘what were you thinking?’ can be a real compliment.

My last vernacular campaign waged against unscrupulous publishers bent on plagiarizing and stealing classical works of journalism ended in the creation of a new novel entitled ‘Playground for the Devil.’ It was a ten month battle to assemble sentences and scenes, phrases and dialogue, emotions and innuendo into a coherent, abet sometimes confusing tale of deception and hidden truth. I believe the objective of the campaign was achieved and truth was enchained.

Sharon was the first to read my manuscript for ‘Playground for the Devil.’ Her reaction was blunt and to the point. She thought the first chapter was very disturbing and the second chapter read like poetry. ‘Great’ I thought, I’ve reached her on an emotional level. I have met my reader and she is mine. There are always adjustments to be made, changes in battle tactics and changing strategies to overcome a reader’s resistance. But my initial onslaught of story-telling reached its intended goal of grabbing my readers (in this case, Sharon’s) attention. Boredom like defeat had been avoided.

Wrestling to find the right words or phrases is an ongoing battle. It’s a constant struggle to write, rewrite, overwrite and edit; all in the hopes of capturing that special phrase that describes the scene intended. Fortunately for me, as the cliché goes, it is a labor of live….or addiction, whichever seems more relevant at the moment.

Writing for me is like a positive addiction. I was afflicted by just such an addiction for about 45 years and that was running. I HAD to run at least five or six times a week. If I was off for more than a week or so, I’d get (figuratively speaking) withdrawal shakes.  Writing now has the same effect on me.

The last twelve years have been a blur in a forest of words. It has gone morphing from novel-writing to playwriting to the occasional screenwriting. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had four of my plays produced and filled the house on each performance. But like the last conflict resolved, there is always another novel to write and yet another play to create and hopefully produce.

Like a band on the road, it is a pattern of supply and demand and resupply. First the novel is written then exploited with ‘meet the authors’ sessions and book fairs attended. Plays are written then produced on a community stage

Like an old war horse put out to pasture, I find myself always returning to the battlefield of eager readers, disinterested patrons and an audience always looking for the next new thing. Luckily, there’s no age limit on being a writer. I’d like to believe that I’m getting better as I age. Time will tell.

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