Words: Show Them Some Respect
by Abigail Harken
“Words, words, words.”* As a general rule, words in our modern world are frequently underrated, abbreviated, and, as a whole, desecrated by the populace on a regular basis. We have more of an opportunity to share our words today, than ever before because of things like online forums, newspapers, and cell phones. Yet, almost no one appreciates this incredible gift of intelligence. We are, on a daily basis, capable of reading sentences written by people who died over 200 years ago, and yet no one seems to realize how incredible that single fact (or feat) truly is. The words you write today could plausibly be read a hundred years after you are gone, so I ask: would you want your most recent Facebook post be something that people remembered you by? Almost everyone today is a writer. However, almost no one can actually write.
At New Saint Andrews College we are attempting to create writers—good writers. Once a year we host a conference to give people a quick education in what makes a good writer. Writing isn’t something that just happens, it takes really bad first drafts, extreme editing sessions, extensive rewriting, and painful yet constructive criticism from peers. It takes blood, and sweat, and ink, and most importantly: it takes time. Well-crafted sentences and magnificent paragraphs that can make women swoon and grown men weep are not things which come into existence with next to no pain and barely any thought. No, you must toil over your forge for hours, days, weeks even! You will often have to completely scrap your work and start afresh, folding and hammering your ideas into a blade that will make people marvel at its incredible craftsmanship.
We must learn to craft memorable statements in our smithy, and we must learn to play with words. Yes, play. For words used in seriousness are well and good in their proper place, just as serious conversations are a necessity. However, a truly good writer can alternate between the solemn and the lighthearted, between work and play.
A goal at New Saint Andrews is to create good writers, for practically everyone in the world is a writer, but to find a truly good writer is a much more difficult feat. That is why we help to shape and form them—because to be a shaper of culture, you must first be able to shape a sentence.
Abigail Harken is a second-year student at New Saint Andrews College.
Back to the Connect Page