On simplicity

I have been told to write simply. It has been brought to my attention that my writing reeks of  the desire to “show-off”, a lot of sabre-rattling and very little communication! This is my anaemic defense.

Firstly, in keeping with my long-held ambitions of becoming a published author – sometime in the future, i am still experimenting with my writing style. It entails me trying to at least aim at the literary heights of the writers that I admire. So here’s my list of inspirational authors : Dickens, Dostoevesky, Kafka, Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie etc. Of this lot, Milan Kundera comes closest to simplicity and profundity. Dickens and Dostoevesky are difficult, although the difficulty is in part due to their historical antiquity. Kafka and Marquez are very complex writers whose works do not aim at comprehension but more at bewilderment sometimes. Magical realism and absurdity reigns supreme in their writings –esp. the short stories. I was deeply influenced by Rushdie’s Shame when I was a child. The flights of his expression, the awe-inspiring command over language and vocabulary left me with a child-like love for words. It comes through in my writing. If I don’t try to write like these literary heroes, I fear I shall never learn. My imitation is the sincerest flattery I offer them.

Secondly, simplicity is difficult. Very difficult because you risk exposing the paucity of ideas. Much easier to launch into rhetoric and a beautiful literary device to deflect attention from the platitudes that you offer as insights! So unless I have a great idea, I am forced to resort to great expression to cover up. And my expression isn’t that great, yet.

Thirdly, the style of writing that I am aiming for involves taking a certain joy in beautiful use of language. Language is not merely instrumental in my writing. There is no clear purpose to my writing. It is for fun. When I find a purpose, as I have in the past for certain issues, writing becomes much simpler, direct, tugging at emotions’ strings. Till then, expression is vital. And I am only learning the art of good expression.

But I understand why people take offense at my supercilious writing style. Not many people try to write like the masters of the past. Maybe, because they fear they are doing injustice or they will be found out. They don’t dare attempt it. But I am quite ambitious and I have a lot to learn. And I will eventually — produce that masterpiece that lurks within everyone of us.And maybe simplicity will come on the way. I am sure it will never come in the way.

New Year Resolution — simple writing, high thinking.





4 thoughts on “On simplicity

  1. I love the way you write! It’s got a sorty of rhythm to it. If you were going to write stories or anything, though, write in third person – it’ll read easier.

  2. Perhaps the person who told you to write simply was wrong, though. Maybe you should wait for a consensus, from a variety of writing stylists. it’s true that I’ve seen writing that’s very overloaded with adjectives and adverbs, and not liked it – but it depends. Originality for me saves writing from just about any stylistic crime – except bad grammar.

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