Writing Challenge: Verbiage

It’s been over a year but yesterday I received a writing challenge. The question posed was this:

I’ve been writing a lot of poetry myself lately and I’m stuck on the topic of verbiage.How we can say or write one thing and yet mean another. How we can hide and bury our emotions in words.

Verbiage itself means wordiness, excess, too much…much like it’s own definition. I believe the very existence of excess is what allows us to say/write one thing, yet mean something entirely different. We live in a world that allows this freely, because it is no longer capable of addressing feelings and emotions. Thus, words have become a way to hide them in plain sight. We have drifted from succinct declarations that left little variation on interpretation, to needing the ability to read what doesn’t seem to be there, and then having no way of truly knowing if said interpretation is correct. Which then leads to the question of what is correct and what is not, and who truly has the authority over that definition. That is a story for another day.

Verbiage is an ideology of its own, because the question really does not lie in how. How is a simple answer. The writer has something to say, but chooses to state it in a way that requires the reader to interpret what the writer truly means. Does the author truly mean that the sky is a stormy gray casting shadows over the land, or is he/she speaking of anger, depression, excitement or change? When a poet speaks of the black, is she referring to oblivion, or one of her favorite television shows? The how is the easy part in all of this, because the how is the action. The author put fingers to keys, pen to paper etc etc. How this came about is truly that simple.

The question, I believe, lies in the why. Why do we bury our emotions in words. Why do we allow ourselves to be caught up in convolution when it seems we know exactly what we want to say? Maybe it is because so much of it has already been said. Maybe it is as simple as “because I felt like it.” Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But understand that the act of writing is both violent and soothing. It is a tearing of one reality to form another and it is deeply personal. Words allow you to hide a true self while allowing it to be glimpsed at all at the same time. Words protect, words destroy, and without some verbosity, words would be a terrible bore.

But I wonder if your how is a mask, with the why a simple answer. How can we hide and bury our emotions in words, and my question back is, how can we not?

How can we not mask ourselves when we begin to write? Humanity will always be obsessed with infamy and obscurity, and what is writing but another extension of that? Yet we are self-preserving creatures, willing to live until its time to being willing to die. We hide ourselves in our words because words will never die. Languages may come and go, but a word cannot. Once written it exists, whether another set of eyes sees it or not, and we will forever exist in that moment, in that word, whether we realize that in that moment, or not.

But to ease out of the verbiage, if I may, I end with this. We hide because we can. We hide because we must. It is in our nature to throw emotions into a world that is both cruel and kind, and wait to see the reply. Sometimes, it is our sanity that we place between the lines.

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