Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Sunday, April 26, 2009

For A Writer

For A Writer

Someone read something a friend of mine
had written and said, "I'm afraid the language
itself gets in the way of the story." This response
puzzled my friend, so she asked the person,
"Why are you afraid, and how do you even know
the story if the language itself didn't tell it to you,
and aren't words supposed to get in the way when
you read?" She admitted that she had deliberately
placed the words between the reader's line of sight
and the blank page or screen. Insulted, the person

told my friend she was ungrateful, rude, and
argumentative. My friend felt badly. I took her
to lunch, partly because I was hungry. "I'm afraid.
I can't read the menu," she said, "because the language
itself gets in the way." I laughed, she laughed, and
we ordered & ate. Writers need to laugh more and
to take a break to eat lunch, I decided that day.

Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom
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