Tuesday, December 27, 2005
THE ART OF NAMING THINGS
I've been reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. Early on in the book, the entire village falls victim to an insomnia plague, and the residents fear that their sleeplessness will make them forget what things are. So they decide to label everything by name: fork, chair, pillow. Then they decide to also write the purpose and function of the item, just in case the words, too, become meaningless. The passage reminded me of how important it is for us as writers to be precise in our writing - to call things by their proper name. Not just tree, but live oak, sycamore, cottonwood. Write so that your reader will know exactly what you mean. Write to remember.