Word for word

Some aspects of language are refreshingly straightforward. Builders build. Actors act. Makers make. Writers write. When someone tells us who they are using these words, there can be no misunderstanding of how they spend their time. So long as the person is not a liar. (So long as they are not one who lies). 

It is a great burden, then, to feel defined by such a word, yet unable to act. For that reason, and so that I may not be a liar, I am here. I am sipping lemon-sugar tea at the kitchen table and I am writing.

I'm inspired to write today by Murakami, whose prose always strikes me as both to-the-point and meandering. At least, those who read him would agree that his style is a quiddity. In the preface to his kitchen table novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, Murakami discusses his writing process for these, his first ever works. These labors set him on his path, but they were not complete until they had been written three times each, each draft wholly new. They are products of translation thrice over, created first in Japanese, then reworded in limited English, and finally brought back to Japanese. 

What a way to edit! 

The author notes how rephrasing in English forced him to use simpler words and more forgiving grammar. His work's voice turned straightforward. On the last pass, translating back to his mother tongue, he knew that he had discovered an original style of Japanese all his own. Here, on this page, I mean to develop a voice all my own, and with my own process. 

I'm calling this writing project verbatim. Why? 

Verbatim is a word used when one person delivers a message from someone else. It means that the language of the message is 1:1. No individual word is substituted for another. Yet, by this definition, a verbatim message could present difficulties between languages. One doesn't talk of putting noodles on one's ears in English, as in Russian, or of being nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof outside the States. Of course, and somewhat antilogously, "verbatim" always meant something different to me. Less "one to one" and more "word for word." Which, in my mind, has an entirely different cast to it.

This understanding means that to speak verbatim is to match the intent of each word faithfully. Each word must be selected with an eye for the last, and for the spirit of the phrase and the entire message as well. A message verbatim is a message for words, by words, and constructed so as to communicate the speaker's intent exactly. It carries a piece of the original speaker with it. 

Until Murakami put pen to paper, he was not a writer. When he did write, he found satisfaction only by passing his experiences through a multilingual lense. There he found a voice all his own. Not an exact translation, but something more. 

As I slow my thoughts down and piece them together, from sensation to English to type, as I write, I create my closest verbatim. This process is my word for word. It is the most that I am. 

I write here to give of myself and to make myself a writer. 

As I write, I quote myself verbatim. 

And I intend these words to carry a piece of myself with them.