The flowery nature of my writing has drawn criticism from the earliest stages of my literary development; it seems that novelist is less my calling than florist. Employing labyrinthine language and a vocabulary that would make Roget occasionally scratch his head, my work requires the reader to remain engaged, a task that can be understandably exasperating. Ostensibly tasked with imparting information, I can often leave folks wondering when I will get to the point.
To be sure, in my legal writing, making an articulate argument requires clarity and brevity; judges do not have time to parse through layers of meaning. When I began law school and into my career as a law firm associate, my mentors endeavored to strip me of my more baroque tendencies. Not immune to these critiques, but imbued with an innate sense of my voice and a healthy ego, I initially resisted, but eventually relented. There is a necessary practicality to the business of law with which my younger self needed to make peace. Now my own boss, I have learned how to craft an effective brief while being true to my style.
Writing is a mélange of technique and expression, an art like others, but also a very direct mode of communication. This column is a bridge between the clinical requirements of drafting motions and the giddy autonomy of pure fiction. Theoretically a series of opinion pieces, wherein nuggets of wisdom are to be shared with a hopefully receptive audience, I admittedly often veer into prose that is ornamental and opaque.
When my topic is quasi-political or potentially controversial, the veil is particularly intentional. Media is rife with commentators making exceedingly clear statements of their position, thereby immediately alienating those who would most benefit from reflection thereupon. I am more interested in exploring the nuances inherent in any issue, despite the fact that any careful reader of this column, or anyone who has spoken to me in person, is likely well aware of where my sympathies lie. Rather than broadcasting my point in proverbial neon, the circumlocutions of my writing mirror the mental gymnastics necessary to truly understand the totality of an issue.
I am often accused of using this platform to aggrandize my intelligence, of using big words just to make others feel inferior. Those barbs sting precisely because my intentions are purely sanguine. Herein I not only have the opportunity to challenge the reader to consider a different viewpoint, but also to provide an enthralling respite from text that is stark and dry. I benefit personally as well: the catharsis of writing, of letting my mind wander is critical to my semi-sanity.
The words that I put to page stem from an unknown wellspring deep in my subconscious, a source that mystifies, but for which I am grateful. My rational mind is merely a conduit for these impulses. I am just happy that the words keep coming, just as I am happy to be credited or excoriated for the final product. For several years, I wrote in the way that I imagined the audience wanted. More than two hundred columns in, I have finally gained the confidence to unbridle my expectations and let my true colors fly.
The pace of our moment requires one to survive the deluge of a waterfall of takes, arguments, and half-truths. Gravity barely exerts an influence on my writing, which meanders like a late summer stream. Although some of my points may get confined to the oxbows, to the vestigial curves of the creeks, at least there is space enough for the flowers to bloom.