As I sit in front of my computer screen, tapping a pen against my head for ideas worthy enough of a 600-word column, nothing comes to mind. I perused through a week's worth of the Lake Sun to generate ideas for a local topic.
I thought of monolithic ideas on the meaning of life and love and work and play. What could I possibly have to say about those things? I'm not even a quarter of a century old.
I browsed national news outlets, I checked social media outlets for ideas.
Language, text and meaning are some of the most difficult things to master, which is why coming up with a column topic often involves several bouts of writers' block.
I've no problem crafting an informative essay — in my school days, I whipped up a 20-page mini-thesis on the use of mountain imagery in Doaist texts. Let me tell you, it was thrilling to write (sarcasm) and I remember all of it (read: none of it).
But crafting an opinion piece requires credible information, a strong point of view and a knack for persuasive writing — a skill that doesn't come easily to many.
Plenty of people think they're authors. I like to think of writing in terms of a metaphor: just because one can use a camera doesn't make one Ansel Adams. It takes time, a willingness to fail, plenty of days with no ideas, a grammar lesson or two and — like many other things — natural talent. With those tools, a simple photo of tree can turn into a work art, as Adams demonstrated.
But it starts with the fundamentals.
For example, I receive an abundance of press releases on a daily basis. In a fair amount of those releases, the author will include a sentence akin to: "[So-and-so] will make an appearance and [do some really awesome thing you've probably seen before anyway]!"
I can live with the sentiment, the author wants the reader to go to said event.
I hate the exclamation point at the end with a fiery passion.
It's a forced emotion. I don't need a line and a dot to tell me when to be excited. If the words don't do that, then you're out of luck.
While most press releases are at least legible and make sense, I can't bring myself to accept the widespread use of constant abbreviations and desecration of English language fundamentals today's America accepts as normal.
I blame social media and the 'I want it now' mentality of U.S. culture.
'Where r u?'
Page 2 of 2 - This kind of text-based slang is something I want to lock away in a deep, dark cave where no one can find it.
We, as a society, want to send a message so bad or receive one instantaneously that we've substituted the letter 'r' for the word 'our' or the letter 'u' for the word 'you.'
Few things can rile me up so easily that a letter-turned-word outside of A or I.
The death of proper English language skills has me, as an onlooker, standing on the sidelines with a sigh of grief.
Today's youth will soon have to write resumés and cover letters for potential jobs.
They will have to know how to converse and interview with proper language skills.
How can we expect children to become creative and proficient with the written and spoken word when culture accepts improper form?
You would never throw a child into a piano recital without the ability to read music, nor a basketball player into the game without knowing the rules.
It's like giving a wedding photographer a disposable camera. The end result is something you'd prefer to forget.