Developing a sensitivity to words.

I wonder, do most writers develop a special sensitivity to word use? The meaning, the tone, the cadence, the rhythm, and even the hidden message? I hadn’t thought about this in general, though I certainly appreciate all of these attributes in poetry and well developed writing. Maybe it’s a silly waste of time but I often edit emails until the rhythm and meaning feel better to me than my original quick typing.

Over the last few days I have received forwarded emails from a friend and, though I had no real knowledge of what was true or false in the first one, I felt a certain unease when reading it and responded neutrally and in few words to the person who sent it. I did react immediately to the next forwarded email. It made me uncomfortable before I had read more than a paragraph, even though I had no knowledge of the subject being addressed. Something about the tone and rhythm disturbed me.

Then, the next day I learned during a radio program about “Fake Mail” that the first piece, attacking a well-known person (nothing to do with politics) , was entirely false and meant to injure the individual slandered there.

I thought again about the second message which was much stronger, but on a subject I know very little about. Why did both messages make me uncomfortable?

Looking at them again I decided it was word use only. I wonder, when we have intense feelings about something, especially when those feelings are negative, do we write or talk in a different manner than we might otherwise? I know from experiences way back when I marched in groups protesting the war in Vietnam and also marched in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, that organizers always wanted us to be peaceful, no ugly shouted words. “Think about what you want to say before you open your mouth” one organizer said.

If the authors of those emails that made me immediately suspicious had listened to messages like that, would I still have been on immediate alert? Today, since the Internet as the publishing platform for opinions of every shade has changed the way we express those opinions, do those of us who are full-time authors pay more attention to the feeling coming from a collection of words than most people? We certainly think about the meaning and effect of each word we use in our writing. That’s one reason I have said I believe writing poetry is good training for any writer, whether or not their writing career is about writing fact or fiction instead of poetry.

Authors out there–are we more sensitive to the result , the meaning and even the truth of words we read or hear simply because we must think deeply about word use in our own creative writing?

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