The Love of Words – Inspiration from Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

McEntyre is a recent author I am currently studying, inspiring me to investigate our culture of writing in ways that should “foster our community,” as she says.

In her book Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, McEntyre says that we must “(1) deepen and sharpen our reading skills, (2) cultivate habits of speaking and listening that foster precision and clarity, (3) and to practice poesis – to make makers and doers of the word.” I know that from my development as a creative writer, I have been challenged by journalism. Condensing my language and putting action words in my articles have made my prose much stronger, more impactful. I hope to keep challenging myself in this area, to pack a punch when I write, to keep checking the thesaurus for starker or fresher words. That way, my readers will be immediately drawn to the page, rather than bored by passive verbs and extensive sentences.

Sadly, in her discourse on the degradation of language, McEntyre mentions newspapers as contributing to what she calls the fourth-grade level of reading. Yet I myself have begun to love the newspaper language as I am working on the student newspaper The Column. I understand what she means when she says that headlines give readers only the tidbit of the newspaper article and that readers instantly flip to newer pages with bigger pictures that satisfy their short attention span. Yet I want to defend my career and say that I aspire to make my articles poignant and accessible to my readers. By “accessible,” I mean that my vocabulary is easily understandable, yet by “poignant,” I mean that my diction speaks action with its verbs. Confessed, cut, zoomed, slashed, grab—these add vivacity to the page more so than any passive or state-of-being verb can do. What grabs readers’ attention are words that carry images and sounds, and I aim to keep employing this language to not only delight my readers but also combat the degradation of language found in any other source of media, whether newspaper or novel.


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