Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Language of Writing

Learning a second language can be difficult. In the third grade we had a Spanish course on television. I learned how to count to twelve and say the Lord’s prayer—that’s it. Before I became computer literate, I was blown away by terms like: bytes, hard drives, and macros. Years ago, while training to be a certified audiometric technician, I struggled with the words presbycusis, decibels and tinnitus. Now as a freelance writer and editor, I find myself confronted with the “language of writing.”

Today I am weaving words into my everyday vocabulary like POV, beats, show-don’t-tell, queries, syntax, en dash, em dash, ellipses, locution and purple prose. Someone said recently that learning the ropes of writing and editing is like learning and understanding the Bible—the more you learn and think you know, the more you find out you don’t know. In other words, it’s a process, not an event.

Just like anything else worthwhile, there is always more to learn. God gives gifts, talents and abilities and it’s up to us what we do with them. The Bible tells us to study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed. That certainly means we are to study God’s Word, but He also expects us to learn all we can and be the best at whatever He has called, equipped and anointed us to do. Whatever our hand finds to do, the scripture says, we are to do with all our might.

Continuing education is required in any field and the world of writing and editing is no exception. There will always be conferences to attend, classes to take, books to read, people who are needed to teach, encourage, sharpen and mentor us, and, most importantly, lots of prayer.