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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

TITLE: The Art of Writing
By Kathie Thomas


Have you considered that using the English language in a correct manner can be an art in itself? How confusing it must be for those who don’t know it as a first language, when it is confusing for those of us who are native English speaking, reading and writing. And even then, look at the differences among the English speaking countries. What confusion there can be!

I enjoyed studying English at school and when we were asked to write I revelled in the fact that I could participate in this subject well. There was joy in putting pen to a fresh page in my exercise book and before the teacher had finished their instructions, I was busy writing. It wasn’t unusual for the teacher to instruct the class to do a minimum of 250 words and then add in the same breath, an instruction to me not to do any more than 500. The kids probably thought I was showing off but I really just enjoyed writing. I didn't excel in sports activities but writing was 'my thing'.

And so I've spent a lifetime writing about almost anything. At a young age my mind would be filled with fictional stories but somewhere along the line I found easier and more satisfactory writing about things that happened to me, or others that I knew. As I came to know our Lord at the young age of 14, my writing turned more towards what I was learning from Him and often based on various verses from the Bible and their particular meaning to me at the time of writing. And so over time I've been learning the art of writing and different forms of that art. I wonder if that's what the Renaissance artists experienced. A change in their preferred subjects as they grew older.

However, I don't do well when writing for a formal process, such as tender specifications. I'm too wordy and my writing is managed in much the same way in which I speak – probably too much for the liking of some! Although many have told me they like my chatty style and since that is the way I feel most comfortable writing, then I stick with it.

Going back to the differences in the English language, I was never more aware of them than when I first came in touch with the Internet. I thought at first people were not using the correct words (such as 'see' and 'sea') but then I found that in the US they spell the piece of paper used for paying someone from your bank account as 'check' whereas in my own country it is spelt 'cheque' and I found I had to consciously make the effort to think in those terms, rather than when you are checking that something has been done properly. I see words as images in my head so I had to do a quick change to get the image right. Likewise I've been told that many words I use are 'old English' and no longer in use by many people on various chat forums but on discussion we've been able to discover that those words might be considered 'old English' in one country and not in another. It's been fun exploring the use of different words in different countries.

The biggest challenge, which could become an embarrassment, is when a word has a completely different meaning in another country and might be an offensive word or a word of slang for something entirely different. I find myself far more conscious of the meaning and use of words these days and am constantly learning to craft my art so it is more universal, rather than country specific. I've written articles about it on blogs and in business magazines. However, I've found not all writers do the same. Many books I've read seem to be written specifically for an audience of their own geographic location. They forget that a global audience would be reading their book and not just a national audience. Two books I read last year, relating to marketing and developing a business at home, suffered this problem.

And so I continue to read to further develop my craft and learn from others, and continue to write on many different themes, using the keyboard and computer as my canvas for my art – the art of writing.

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This article has been read 1085 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 01/26/07
Excellent thoughts here - ones many of us need to take seriously! I feel like I really got to know you, and what has formed you, as a writer. If I were to give you a suggestion, I would mention that it almost felt like you were telling two different stories - the "art" of writing and your story, and they didn't always seem to "meld" as well as they could have. Regardless, it was an enjoyable and informative read!
Marilyn Schnepp 01/27/07
Great story for last week's topic...but weak on Art. However, practice makes perfect. Never give up the ship....
dub W01/31/07
Interesting article. The Art of English language, for those of us who natively speak English, maybe that's not important. For my ESL students, mastering the art is the most important thing they do. Would that we native speakers would take as much care of our language.
Donna Powers 01/31/07
Very informative and clearly written. This gives lots of food for thought. Thanks for sharing it
Timothy Oesch01/31/07
Very interesting thoughts. I would have liked it more if you had written it more in the form of a story (as if it were happening to someone else) even though it was, or appeared to be, about you. I find that once you have put yourself in the position of a fireside story teller almost any tale, no matter how ordinary, can suddenly burst to life in a tower of dazzling flames. You could have also written in the form of a memoir while still maintaining that fireside feel (this is just personal preference, but it's fun to write and usually, though not always, appealing to those who read it). It is ironic how "art" is such an all encompassing word, though some people interpret it too broadly (ferrets playing in paint on a canvas? Really....)
Linda Watson Owen01/31/07
What an interesting article! The living tool and mystery of language is so fascinating isn't it! I love words as I can see you do. Thank you for a refreshingly different article.
Jan Ackerson 01/31/07
I love this, because words hold the same fascination for me. I enjoy your voice, and was very entertained by this essay.