a lot of nerve – #SoCS

The first thing to pop up when I Googled:


a lot of nerve

1. A great amount of courage, resolve or integrity.
It must have taken a lot of nerve to stand up to your boss like that.

2. Rude, impertinent, or brazen audacity.
You’ve got a lot of nerve walking in here after the way you spoke to me last time.


There’s a head scratcher for sure. With the same phrase, you can compliment and denigrate. The only difference is intent, and of course, reception. I feel like I’ve had a lot of nerve at work the last couple weeks, but I’m guessing a lot of people at work just think I’ve got a lot of nerve.

Know what I mean?

And therein is the reason I love words, the reason I love language, the reason I love writing.

I mentioned to a friend last week that I would be an excellent technical writer, and many friends and coworkers over the years have commented on my ability to write up instructions with order and clarity. And it’s true, even if I have to say so myself. I know how to use the language to say exactly what needs to be said to get to a preferred outcome. I’m a teacher at heart, and I love the challenge of making things clear and understood with language (and sometimes I use pictures and screenshots – lots of different kinds of learners out there).

But I’m also an artist. Primarily, I’m a musician, but of late I have taken to using words and language as art as well. This takes me to the opposite end of the spectrum of language usage from the technical writer. As a creative writer or poet, I’m seeking to do something completely different with words. I no longer WANT to tell you exactly what to think or do. I want to send the reader’s mind and heart in many different directions, hopefully even different directions than what drove the words in the first place. I seek a universality of application. One friend (the one I told I thought I’d make an excellent technical writer, interestingly enough) says this kind of writing “obfuscates”. I know I’ve got a lot of nerve to say this, but WRONG. Obfuscation implies an intention to make things more difficult to understand. Unintelligible on purpose. I (and I think most artistic writers would agree) have no intention of being unintelligible. What’s the point in that?

But, having said that, you need the other side of the communication equation. As I said earlier when first mentioning “a lot of nerve“, you have intent, and then you have reception. I don’t intend to be unintelligible, but perhaps my words processed through another’s brain mean nothing. That’s frustrating to me but also completely beyond my control.

Take the visual arts for example. I honestly have NO IDEA what Jackson Pollock’s “intent” was when he got up on a ladder and dribbled paint all over a room-sized canvas. I don’t find it particularly moving or meaningful. Others find it pure genius. Why? I don’t know. Different strokes for different folks? Maybe it’s that simple. I think a lot of it comes down to our wiring. Some people just NEED things to be a certain way in order to understand and enjoy. Some people NEED the realism of a 19th century Millet painting to appreciate the effort of pigment on canvas. Some people NEED to read academic journals and technical manuals in order to understand “life”. Others (believe it or not) like to look into the abstract, into the unclear, and extract meaning for themselves in order to experience “life” in a different way. It doesn’t make them pretentious (necessarily – but that’s a different essay); it just makes them different.

And as an Arby’s ad once said, “Different is good”.

Then you have some of us who are cursed/blessed with the ability to see, understand, and appreciate more of the spectrum. We’re not “straddling the center” (well, maybe I was for a while, but again, a different essay), we’re just living along a wider piece of what is and isn’t “art”, what is and isn’t “understandable”, what is and isn’t “beautiful”, what is and isn’t… “right”?

It’s a dangerous place to live in a world that’s filled with one “side” or the other. I often find myself unaccepted and unappreciated by either of the “camps”. See what I just said there? Side, Camps. Why the need to separate? Why the need to cordon off your reality from mine? Why the need to pitch my “camp” on this “side”?

This has been a super hard “stream of consciousness”. I’ve wanted to go back and edit and/or elaborate multiple times. I hope along the line someplace I made some sense. Or, I hope I made no sense at all and you just found it a beautiful string of words and sentences. Or, I hope you can hate it altogether, and I can be “OK” with that.

I know, I’ve got a lot of nerve.

But then, I’ve got a lot of nerve.


#SoCS (Saturday Stream of Consciousness) comes from the website of Linda G. Hill.

Today’s word was “Nerve

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing (typos can be fixed), and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

6 Comments

  1. I know what you mean. This is why I love language too. Given the choice I take Millet over Pollock but when it comes to reading my preference depends on my mood. Being lost in abstract or fictional is a blissful escape to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m all over the place stylistically, but in literature and the visual arts. That’s what got me thinking about the spectrum and “camps”. Not sure how “nerve” sent me there, but that’s the joy of SoCS. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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