Seen and Heard

Posted in Figuratively Speaking, On writing, Writers at 7:33 am by Marion



Yesterday, I wrote a sentence that kept me awake last night. Now I’m a writer, but not so conceited as to imagine my words are worth losing a night’s sleep over. (Over which to lose a night’s sleep? Oh well … another post.)

What you ask did I write that rippled throughout my sleep? I wrote a simple closing thought in an email, one of those silly throwaway lines you create as you’re desperately trying to get out of that d* message and onto something else. I’m often writing people I’ve never met, and making fairly personal and complicated requests of them (How old was your daughter when you gave her part of your liver to save her life?) So in my emails I always aim for the stratified politeness level that’s generally required to write a proper email, since normal language comes off as rude or brusque.

Here’s the line:

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

As soon as I wrote it, I shivered. How the mighty fall! Penning (or tapping) a line like that one nearly knocked me out of my rattletrap desk chair.

Just look at it — it’s a fright!!

Look forward to … a phrase that relies on a visual metaphor. Implies you are literally peering into the future and searching for something, as if you could spy a response, like a ship, on the horizon.

Hearing … an auditory metaphor. Implies the writer is a sounding board, waiting for anything that comes along. This phrase by the way is especially useful for writers who must constantly submit their work for review. It offers no promise of commitment to rewrite or revise. As in, Here’s the new brochure on Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I will wait until hearing from you before sending to the designer, and really appreciate your suggestions.

(Writers secret: If you want to make a writer’s skin crawl, tell us you are sending “corrections” or “changes.” There is a special place in Dantes Inferno for people who subject writers to such things. You may, however, send your suggestions, recommendations or ideas. If you’re very very nice about it.)

And last in that phrase, we have … thoughts.

As something that is shared.

I know full well that thoughts are in the mind, known only by one person, the thinker, and then, only remotely. Thoughts are abstract, shapeless, vague things that can’t be pinned down.

Much less heard.

So we have a ridiculous proposition. A writer sitting at her desk, eyeballs at the window looking not to the side or back, but forward. With her ear cocked, on alert, to hear something that may or may not yet be there … something that may not make a sound … to hear … thoughts.

Obviously, working every weekend for the past five weeks has done something to my brain.

So this weekend I will not work, unless you consider a family trip work, which it may be in the end. But not work of the verbal variety. It seems to rattle the brain. See what I mean?


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