Bob prefers to let readers use imagination by Bob Karolevitz It was a scary thing I read the other day.
One Hollywood producer is only hiring writers under 30. It seems that anybody over that age doesn't understand the world we live in today.
Yipes! Even though I don't write for movies or television, it got me to thinking. Do writers outgrow their readers, or is it the other way around? Could it be that those of us who took our first journalistic training before World War II are now part of the passing parade?
I didn't exactly write in hieroglyphics or carve words in stone, but I've got to admit that years sometimes color my work.
I asked Phyllis if she notices any words or phrases which show my vintage.
"Well, when you write about Model T Fords and say things like 23 Skidoo, you definitely show your age," she answered somewhat condescendingly. "You've got to remember that your nostalgia isn't necessarily the nostalgia of another generation."
"Maybe I should upgrade my language to keep up with the times," I suggested. "It should be easy because I heard all the words used by those under-30 sit-com writers long before they were born. It was mostly in barracks latrines, though."
That's not fair, of course. The job of all writers � re-gardless of age � is to communicate, and if it takes a different idiom to reach an audience, I guess that's all right. Even Shakespeare and Chaucer would have a few problems being understood today.
As for me, I'll probably keep whacking away at my old Smith Corona as though I never read about putting writers over 30 out to pasture. I recognize that I'm sort of eccentric when it comes to the technology of the day, but I hope my dinosaurean (a new word I just made up) attitude doesn't carry over into my writing.
I know I could use more colorful language when I tell about Phyllis in the chicken coop, for instance, but then she'd probably want to wash my mouth out with soap, which is an archaic expression right there. Let readers use their imaginations, I say. Paint them a sketchy word-picture, and let them do the rest.
While I'm at it, there's something else I'd like to get off my chest. In a way it's related.
Today much of our business correspondence could use a little up-dating. We start out a letter just like we did generations ago. We write "Dear Mr. Smith," calling him dear even though we don't like the guy. Then we proceed to discuss this or that in language which is not ours. We close by saying "Yours truly" or "Sincerely," whether we mean it or not.
Now that's the kind of writing that really needs fixing. But I digress.
When it comes right down to it, why should I worry about what Hollywood does? Let the kids write the comedy shows for each other, while those of us who pen other things should just make sure we don't use expressions that date us.
Like 23 Skidoo and "Oh you kid!"
© 2001 Robert F. Karolevitz