Mixed Media Monday: “The Elements of Expression” by Arthur Plotnik

I would’t be writing this blog post if it weren’t for Arthur Plotnik and his book “The Elements of Expression.” Those who monitor my blog would’ve noticed I neglected writing my Fiction Analysis Friday post. I didn’t forget so much as I thought I needed a break, a fresh perspective. A fresh look not just at the short story I’m laboring through but the entire concept of writing. I didn’t want to replace Friday’s post with a apologetic scrawl either. I believe my recent posts are justification enough for my absence: I’ve been grappling with writing’s meaning to my life. “The Elements of Expression” shepherded me back to writing without ever meaning to do so.
“The Elements of Expression” is meant for anyone interested in expressing themselves. Our ears are endlessly tuned to the generic, the “canned phrases” we call cliches. In most conversations these expressions work just fine. We can have “good” days, it can “rain like crazy”. When we write to engage or to invigorate these generic expressions no longer work. So we must stimulate the audience with unique and self-true eloquence. “The Elements of Expression” reminded me my reason for writing was self-expression.

It’s simple but most problems have simple answers (or ones that can be explained simply). The written word is the only medium where I know my own voice. It’s only through writing that I can interact with people on my terms.

We struggle with words because they separate us from the lowing beasts and tell the world who we are, what we want, and why. – Plotnik

Plotnik reminded me, more than taught me, that my writing is an expression of my identity. Right now as people may read short stories I’ve stammered through and one’s I’ve gained confidence through, they are piecing together mosaic pieces of my identity. Those shards might be theirs as well but they are foremost an extrusion of self.

In this environment(one of New Journalism, instant electronic feedback, etc), individual expression calls for an aggressiveness, an exuberance, a responsiveness… – Plotnik

Though my writing can hardly be considered aggressive, exuberant, or responsive, I’ve caught glimpses of their feeling through trying. There’s no simple solution other than to to push what is in outward in as elegantly casual way I’m capable. This does mean, that pursing exuberance and aggressiveness in my expression is the next step, one which I’ve started only recently. But I’m here still writing even when confronted with words I can only feel whose exact meanings feel indistinct like fog.

3 thoughts on “Mixed Media Monday: “The Elements of Expression” by Arthur Plotnik”

  1. […] The Elements of Expression has to be first. Much of what I read from this tome on expression shaped the way I play with words in fiction. Without it I would be hopelessly seeking a unique voice without grasping what it means to express — the word “express”  meaning “to press out” in Latin, hinting at the inherent difficulty. Thanks to Plotnik and his convincing and common sense work on the matter, I’ve dedicated work to deliberate and unique expression. Doing so revealed how little contemporary authors express themselves. What they reveal, instead of themselves, is a copy-paste cast of generic phrasing. […]

    Liked by 1 person

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