The Words to Say

…this was the real trouble -- Joseph Grand couldn’t find his words. … According to him, he felt a particular aversion from talking about his ‘rights’ -- the word was one that gave him pause -- and likewise from mentioning a ‘promise’ -- which would have implied that he was claiming his due and thus bespoken an audacity incompatible with the humble post he filled. On the other hand, he refused to use expressions such as ‘your kindness,’ ‘gratitude,’ or even ‘solicit,’ which, to his thinking, were incompatible with his personal dignity. Thus, owing to his inability to find the right words, he had gone on performing his obscure, ill-paid duties until a somewhat advanced age. … He went on looking for his words. … Without a blush he confessed to dearly loving his nephews and sister, his only surviving near relation, whom he went to France to visit every other year. He admitted that the thought of his parents, whom he lost when he was very young, often gave him a pang. … Yet to express such emotions, simple as they were, the least word cost him a terrible effort. And this difficulty in finding his words had come to be the bane of his life. “Oh, Doctor,” he would exclaim, “how I’d like to learn to express myself! - The Plague, Camus
This character, Joseph Grand, appears in Albert Camus' novel 'The Plague'.  Do you ever feel that way? When you simply cannot think of how to express yourself? I know I do. I think the problem lies in a perfectionist spirit. Grand says later on:

So you see, it's got to be flawless. 
So is that it? Must we continue in our struggle; stumbling over our words because we want to be perfect? I think that's a little counter-productive. In an attempt to be perfect, I end up sounding stupid. We can't be so caught up in trying to make ourselves so clear that the main point actually ends up being incomprehensible. Sure, we can be a little picky over our words, but enough is enough.

I'd like you to understand, Doctor. I grant you it's easy enough to choose between a 'but' and an 'and.' It's a bit more difficult to decide between an 'and' and 'then.' But definitely the the hardest thing may be to know whether one should put an 'and' or leave it out.
Has Grand gone over the edge, here? I think it's easy to say that he has. The smallest words can sometimes be some of the most important to the meaning of a sentence, but if you labour over every one of these in every single thing you write, you'll get nowhere. And if you have no headway, what's the point? Sometimes the most important thing is to simply get to the point and communicate your thought, even if there may be imperfections in the style of the phrase. Does that matter? Throughout the entire course of 'The Plague,' Joseph Grand attempts to write a novel, but never even finishes the first sentence, even though he works on it every evening.

So, in conclusion, we must all learn to sometimes ignore that inkling of doubt in the back of our mind, and come right out and say it. Now, as with any rule, you can take this too far. Of course revision is needed; of course you need to read through speeches countless times to make sure you won't miscommunicate, but in average daily conversation, it is not so important to craft each sentence perfectly. Let the Spirit guide and direct your speech. 

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About Caleb Joyce

So, who am I? I do many different things. I enjoy writing, graphics design, sports, and people. Most importantly, though, I am a follower of Christ, and I aim to further advance the knowledge of his glory in everything I do. At any rate, you can get in touch with me on either Facebook or Twitter, using the links above. I look forward to speaking with you.