Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Too many words

As another year ends, I note that I have once again managed to post less on this blog than last year. At this rate I am on course to achieve complete radio silence by 2017.

Perhaps this is no bad thing. One of the many salutary bits of advice in William Strunk and E.B. White's classic book The Elements of Style is that no writer should offer their opinions 'gratuitously' because to do so is 'to imply that the demand for them is brisk, which may not be the case'. In fact, it almost certainly isn't the case. But sometimes, in the blog- and tweet- and comment-osphere, it can feel like everyone is shouting over each other to no one in particular, convinced that the demand for their opinions is, all evidence to the contrary, brisk.

Meanwhile all the books I am supposed to read lie in a big pile on the sofa, some of which have even been sent to me in the hope I will read them: a guilt mountain of paper and print. So my new year's resolution is to spend a bit less time writing and a bit more time reading. Reading other people's unread words seems a more generous act than adding yet more to the unread pile. Perhaps there are already too many words in the world.

I'm not sure whether I will be able to keep my resolution. It seems to be an occupational disease of writers to keep churning the words out whether the market for them is brisk or not. As Juvenal writes in his Satires: 'Tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes', or 'the incurable itch to write affects many'. But I will do my best. Happy new year if you are reading this, and Lege feliciter, as the Venerable Bede said: 'May you read happily'.

1 comment:

  1. Inspired by your blog post I did the same extrapolation. My weblog will stop updating in 2015. It's a perfectly linear decrease: