Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Economy of Words

What do a humble village gardener in a medieval European village, a psychopathic serial killer in a futuristic prison, and one of the last remaining humans in a distant future dominated by microbes and artificial intelligence have in common? They are all main characters in The Traveling Box Trilogy, an epic poem that spans from the late 16th century to the distant future as it explores and defines the human mind, body, and soul while speaking in the language of our time. Keeping the interest of the reader is foremost in thought while endeavoring to convey this epic tale in under 400 pages. That is why every line is crafted with the consideration of the economy of words.
            An analogy can be made of the economy of words and the economy of finances. Just as there is of necessity a finite amount of currency, so as to give money its worth for trade and payment of debts, there is also a finite amount of words available to express our thoughts and communicate. However, one can continue to speak or write words without the fear of ever running out. Yet, this is not to say that one should go about carelessly spending this renewable resource, for much can be said in a few well-chosen words, while too many words can sometimes diminish the value of what is said. Therefore, whenever I write I try to keep the following quote in mind: “A paragraph should be like a lady’s skirt: long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to keep it interesting.” – Anonymous
            When one is presented with a book that could replace a baseball bat as home protection, unless each page is rich with one or more of the commodities of intrigue, emotion, humor, knowledge, wisdom etc. … the reader will begin to consider the law of diminishing returns. Time is valuable and a reader will be frugal with it, not wanting to waste this valuable commodity on a frivolous expenditure of words. But we are willing to invest our time in reading words that have been crafted with quality and add value to our lives by enriching or entertaining our intellect. That is what I have hoped to accomplish with this trilogy that should not cause you bodily harm if you should by chance drop it from a modest height onto your foot.
            The spoken word too must be budgeted wisely. For instance, the words “I love you,” when confessed for the first time, can be priceless to the one spoken to, but if one uses this phrase too often it can begin to lose its initial value. The same can be said of the prayers of structured religions, in which the followers all intone as one with the same unaltered words of praise and repentance for centuries. While these prayers undoubtedly originated with good intentions, they must have by now become an incessant, unremitting, torture to the divine’s ears. I can picture the god clasping his ears and pleading, “Please, for the love of me, cease spouting off this repetition of prayers that has now haunted me for centuries! I have created you each independently and as such I yearn to hear your own original thoughts.” And so, in the midst of the myriad of literature to choose from, I offer a story which the reader should find both original in content and style. Now, so that I may be said to practice what I preach, I will end this economized essay before it begins to tax your patience. Enjoy the books!