Sunlight is streaming through the stained glass windows of the dining chamber when the princess arrives. The large double doors close behind her. The king is not here yet; she sighs an inward sigh of relief, making her way towards one end of the mahogany dining table. The legs of the heavy gilded chair scrape across the carpet as she pulls the chair back and takes her place. Her legs dangle from the edges. Leaning her arms on the table, she looks up at the stained glass windows, admiring the way the sunlight makes them glitter. Her gaze moves to the high ceiling, painted with elaborate but fading designs. She closes her eyes, revelling in the warmth and serenity of the moment.
Bang. The princess is jerked out of her reverie as the dining room doors fly open. In marches the king. His crown glints in the sunlight as he strides across the room. The princess hastily stands up. An attendant pulls the king’s chair back and he takes a seat at the opposite end of the table. The princess bows in a low curtsey, clutching her dress in clammy hands. Adjusting his taupe robes, the king acknowledges her presence with a curt nod. She returns to her seat as the doors open once again.
“You’r eyes light up my day.”
I saw this sentence today and felt like a new level of grammatical/spelling error has been reached by whoever wrote this. I have often seen people confuse “your” and “you’re”, but for someone to almost invent a new word to communicate something makes me feel a little frustrated. To me, it seems like we are losing a certain part of communication through language, something that made it fluid and graceful. Grammar and spelling rules may not be for everyone, and I’m not criticising anyone for their grammatical or spelling errors, but I get the impression that many people are a lot more careless with these aspects of language than they used to be. Because of this, I feel like the power words used to possess – the power to paint a picture, to take someone to an altogether different world – is being diminished.
I view language somewhat like a ballet dancer, and admire its elegance. As much as words can be used to harm, they can equally be used to convey ideas, evoke thoughts and to heal. To me, basic grammar and spelling are essential in using language to its full potential, just like pointe shoes are needed for a ballet dancer to dance on the tip of her toes. Well fitting pointe shoes support and protect her, and when this is combined with her skill, a beautiful dance results.
Language can be beautiful too, and I feel that part of that beauty is attributed to correct use of grammar and spelling. I recently read an article that raised an interesting idea: teenagers are following their own rules of spelling and grammar when communicating with each other. This may be true, but I feel that ‘your’ has a lot more beauty (and seems to show a lot more care) than ‘ur’.
Literature has been around for a long time. Reading a book called A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland, I have very quickly realised (as the author himself states) that the history of literature is anything but little. As an aspiring author, this makes me both happy and a little bit… nervous. I love the idea that if I manage to become a successful author one day, I will be able to add something meaningful to literature, to which countless masterpieces have been contributed. Even if my piece of literature may not be anything close to their standards, it would be brilliant to be a part of something so vast that it spreads to nearly every nook and cranny of the world.
On the other hand, I wonder if I will ever be able to write something that will be truly new. It is true, as Sir Isaac Newton put it, that one can see further by “standing on the shoulders of giants”, but nevertheless, each timeless work seems to have something new, something original to it that makes it the masterpiece it is.
Right now, I’m not aiming to create a masterpiece. I don’t think I’m at a level of expertise where I can even begin to create a masterpiece. But participating in NaNoWriMo has led me to wonder this about any piece of writing I create – will anything I ever write be absolutely original? If I write, “The sky darkened as if someone had spilled ink onto it” how will I know whether this simile has already not been worn out? When describing a stormy day, I’m sure that the phrases ‘whistling/howling wind’ or ‘steel grey sky’ have already been used. I’m not insinuating that they can’t be used again, but will this impede any piece from being original?
I don’t know very much about writing yet. I know that imagination, creativity, practice and of course, writing from the heart can take one a long way. But until I can learn about the intricate mechanics of literature in more depth, I guess I will just have to keep writing (whether what I write seems fresh and original or old and dreary) because that, to me, is the best way to learn.