I Need Words: Repairing the Shorted Cable Between Brain and Paper

I promised you all a list post today about frustrating moments when you adopt a kitten. Yet, as I tried to write it, I kept getting hung up on one frustrating moment that happened this week. Because of how my brain works, it inspired this entirely not feline-related post.

On Monday, Ezri, our “adorable” little kitten, chewed up Nikki’s $70 Macbook charger. It wasn’t a complete schism, but it was just enough to cause a short, rendering it effectively non-functional. I remember testing it using an outlet, and it will only charge if you hold the wire in a very particular way. That’s totally a fire hazard, and even if it weren’t you’d have to use the paperclip trick to keep it there. So, in the trashcan the charger went.

Unfortunately, when it comes to writing, the cable always has a short. Also, you can’t just buy a new charger, and there’s no such thing as the paperclip trick. This is especially true of writing fiction. But at least it can’t start an actual fire – that would be bad.

I always try to keep this on the down-low, but one day I will attempt to publish a book. However, my rule is I must be 80% happy with the outcome. They always say your first book sucks, and mine was no exception. I nearly completed it, but it was irredeemably bad, reading more like a bad fan-fiction than the legitimate YA sci-fi novel I was going for. Heck, it was the kind of bad that made my early blogs from back in 2010 look like Hawthorne. I threw it in the trash can. I doubt I could find a copy if I wanted to.

The first novel had a cool central premise, though, and that’s where the rub comes. What my first novel had above all was a vocabulary problem.

Here’s what I mean: sometimes I wish there was a way I could take what I’m feeling and put it down on paper without actually having to write the words. My desire is a technology that lets readers feel what I’m saying, telepathically, but until that exists the boundaries of language effectively limit the conveyance of imagery, emotion, and existentialism. Well-constructed music also does that about as well as anything, but even a great album needs solid songwriting.

Let’s face it, writing is the best tool we have, even if it’s slightly defective. It seems something is often lost during the transition between the voices inside my head and the mind’s eye of readers when digesting the words on the page. I truly think that language itself, as a technology, is too restrictive to convey the fine nuances of an experience.

Good writers know how to get close; to push against the edges of an elastic box hard enough to enrapture an audience. But even a great writer, I feel, can’t transmit exactly the happenings they are attempting. Words red-shift as they get further away from a writer, until they’re a distortion of their original intent. We view the words of authors like distant stars, galaxies away.

Therefore, true meaning is left up to the audience; a personal reflection of themselves. We must use past experience and our own paradigms – our ways of seeing the world – to fill the chasms. When we do that, the whole flavor of the work changes. Seven billion people; seven billion possibilities. The words become deeply personal – relationships are repaired, lifestyles are changed, skills are gained, and art is understood because of the distorted words of the author.

In the end, writing is a selfless act. This disparity between the author and the readers could be the hero of the story, not the villain. Perhaps the short doesn’t need to be repaired. Maybe we should trash the cord altogether.

What do you think? What is your story of not being about to convey exactly what you want to? Has it ever gotten you into trouble? Let me know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to follow or subscribe to the email list (bottom of the home page) to never miss a post!


Five Frustrating Moments When You Adopt a Kitten is still in the pipeline, but I’m not fully happy with it. It hasn’t hit the 80% contentment threshold I strive for. But you should totally check out Wednesday’s post: Five Cute Moments When You Adopt a Kitten.

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Matthew // Normal Happenings

Matthew Estes. STL-based Blogger. Graphic Designer. Happily Married. One day I'll actually complete a book I'm happy with. I love pizza, video games, and using way too many ellipses...

9 thoughts on “I Need Words: Repairing the Shorted Cable Between Brain and Paper

  1. I loved that redshift comment…you’ve reminded me about a post I have been intending to write for a wee while now. I have touched on it in the past in relation to other things but I think it deserves a full post. But, in short, the short between the paper and brain isn’t a short and it shouldn’t be repaired. It’s where the story lives. Writer communicates intent, reader interprets and the story is born – a collaborative effort and I suspect that couldn’t happen if brain met paper

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ll link back to this post when I write it, hopefully it will give you a ping and failing that hopefully I will remember to do it myself as it probably wont happen for a week or two

        Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Hello everyone, welcome.  I am going to be talking about one of my writing philosophies today, which I have briefly touched on in a roleplay context (and will re-iterate later on in this post), but wanted to actually write a full post all about it as it is, I feel, deserving of a full post.  This has been sitting on the backburner for a while, but I read a post by Matthew over at Normal Happenings and it reminded me that I needed get my act together.  The post that reminded me can be found on the following hyperlink The Shorted Cable between Brain and Paper. […]

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