DISCLAIMER– This article has used ‘he’ while referring to a writer; this is done only to avoid the hassle of shuffling between he and she. No sexism is being promoted through such usage.
A writer must know the meaning of this word; a writer must know the synonym of that word; a writer must be aware of this rule of grammar; a writer must not look up for the meaning of that word; a writer must never, ever, make a grammatical mistake; a writer must know this, and a writer must know that- this is a peek into something I’ve been hearing from quite some time now. These are the rules that a writer (here, of English language) must adhere to. A writer, if he wants to sustain his ‘position’ as one, must know this and also that.
Why, I always wonder. Why is a writer supposed to know the meaning of all the possible words? And why, on the top of that, is a writer to be mocked or questioned about, if he fails to know the meaning of one or two or three or more words? Did he ever claim to be the know-it-all? If yes, then the mockery is, I can say, justifiable, still not necessary though. And, if no, who are you to tell if he should stop considering himself a writer or a storyteller or alike, only because he isn’t aware of the meaning of some of the thousands of words? A verbivore, or a logophile, or an etymologist for that matter, might be questioned about his inability to know the meaning of words, as what is expected of these nouns is words, words forming no stories or poetries, just simply words; the noun- writer- is expected to deliver much more than just words, he is expected to make sense out of these words.
When I look around, I realize how easy and natural it has become for us to be insensitive. And why not? After all, insensitivity asks for the least of the human’s heart, least of the human’s empathy, least of the human’s humanity. And this is why it is always easier to hate, to criticize, to mock others, than to love, to appreciate, to acknowledge them.
We do not try to understand a field; we, rather, build up our fences of expectations around it. And whosoever fails to cross them, becomes a subject of ridicule. And why is that? Because he couldn’t cross the unreasonable fences built around the field by the people who did not even play any role cultivating that field. This is the case not only in writing, every field nameable suffers from it. Funny, isn’t it?
Criticize the work you find faulty. Yes, do it. Do it wholeheartedly. (There is this term called constructive criticism.) Not every work is pretty, not everything works out for everyone, and so it’s legit to not like one piece of work. But appreciate the other piece, the piece that made your heart flutter and soul breathe. Why can’t we be as open to providing appreciation, as we are to providing criticism?
People fail to realize, how vast, how inexplicably vast a language is, especially the one like English, and so are its rules. Rules keep on changing; they change constantly. The change they bring, is accepted by some, disregarded by others.
In fact, if I take a closer look, I realize there is no such thing as rules in here. Yes, tenses still exist; they follow the same old gold rules. Active and passive still go by their way. Yet, subtle changes creep in while one writes. While one writes, a new rule, what we may also refer as style here, is, unconsciously, given birth to. Writers around notice, notice the changes, and imitate them or mock them, as to what suits them. It’s not always easy to break rules, especially in a language. You break one, you hear thousand voices against you. Creating a rule, or modifying an existing one, is an invitation to many raging voices.
But isn’t that how rules have always been spawned?
Once upon a time, it was Shakespeare, whose writings created various words, phrases and rules, which are still in usage and are still being followed. Then came modernists, who did the same thing. And our progeny would go by the same way. Why? Because that seems to be the only way this can work.
A language isn’t physics or chemistry, it has nothing to do with the earthly elements or its phenomenon. It doesn’t adhere to the gravity, it doesn’t have to. All it has to do is make as much sense to heart, as it does to brain.
A writer need not to know the meaning of this word; a writer need not to know the synonym of that word; a writer need not to be aware of this rule of grammar; a writer can look up for a meaning of that word; a writer can make a grammatical mistake; a writer need not to know this, and a writer need not to know that. A writer can be guilty of any or all of the above, and can still very well go on without questioning his ability to write.
A writer is an intimate part of a storyteller, of an author, of a diarist, of a columnist, of a journalist; it’s not an entity in itself. A writer is an intimate part of a much longer list of nouns, but, here, I would suffice it to say that a writer is always a part of a bigger picture; it is, never, a whole picture in itself. Improved and better writing helps enhancing a piece already complete in itself. ‘A writer’ isn’t even an independent identity and wholesome entity, I gather.
How to put it out here? Let us just stop considering ‘a writer’, a noun (only in literal sense.) Let us start taking it as an adjective, an adjective that beautifies a noun, such as a storyteller or an author or so. ‘A writer’ is a way of expression; it’s not an expression in itself. And a storyteller, a journalist, a columnist, a poet, a person who writes anything, must not know everything.
I started off discussing how unreasonable the expectations from a writer are, and ended up deducing that ‘a writer’ isn’t even a thing. I, sometimes, surprise even my own self.
Have you ever been a victim of an unreasonable chastising? Or are you guilty of doing it? Do share. Let’s discuss.
PS– This article is being posted on a weekday, in the night (IST), after a tragic gap of 3 weeks- all of which is off of my usual schedule. But from now on, this space, like before, would again be regular and up in your service. Please show some love. * puppy-face *
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