Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Trading Words


It's a given that you can’t write without a vocabulary. That’s like saying you can’t drive a car without a car or you can’t practice law without laws.

Since words are free and readily available, does it follow that anybody can be a writer? Can a person drive a car just because he owns one? Following the cultural revolution in China years ago, the government turned untrained citizens into doctors by legal fiat. A lot of people probably died in hospitals while the Communists tried to prove that the common man could fill uncommon shoes.

Obviously tools alone don’t make a craftsman, though a driver can't drive without a car and a writer can't write without a vocabulary. A writer with the best vocabulary isn't necessarily the best writer. And just maybe some of the best writers don't have the best vocabularies.

Given a vocabulary, training, and practice, can any person be a writer? Time to give it a think.

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