How I write – a critical reflection (MA in English and Creative Writing)
“A thousand years ago we had about 30 000 [words], now English has 500 000 and the figure is rising daily. They belong to the nation, are listed in dictionaries and each one of us has a usable store or word-hord, as the Anglo-Saxons called vocabulary, of about 15 000. This is 3 per cent of the total in The Oxford English Dictionary and only half the number used by Shakespeare.”
(Singleton, J and Sutton, G, 2000, p.41)
Well, after this quote, I see myself ready to give up writing;
writing in English, I mean. English is not my first language, therefore I believe it is impossible for me to actually have a ‘usable store of about 15 000’. However, it is odd to notice that I find it more comfortable to write in English that in my mother-tongue, Portuguese. Sometimes, I feel like I lack Portuguese vocabulary for certain types of writing more than English vocabulary. Luckily, I tend to like to keep it simple.
“Some writers think all prose, including autobiography, is fiction. Writing about self is really aliobiography they say – stories invented to explain (away?), rationalise, excuse, justify and disguise the truth. … In writing about the self our unconscious censoring and the deficiencies of memory mean we have to fictionalise to some degree anyway, if only to make sense of a mass of confusing and fragmentary recollections. We invent dialogue for ourselves, rearrange chronology, try metaphor and assonance and rhythms to heighten emotion and dramatise, telescope events, eliminate extraneous detail, focus on key moments, images, ad infinitum. The whole tale is a careful crafting deploying a wide range of narrative tactics and effects.” (p. 100)