"John," you say, barely daring to utter the words, "do you know a writer called George Orwell?"
"Um... no, sorry. What did he do?"
"Animal Farm?" Start easy. Let's not move onto Nineteen Eighty-Four just yet.
"Oh man, that cartoon was so sad. I must have cried for like an hour after it ended. Poor Boxer..."
A bittersweet smile crosses your lips. You also shed a tear for the loyal, honest workhorse when he was betrayed and sent to the knacker's yard. Perhaps not something to admit though. Not now. Not to John. Much too close to home.
"Orwell once said a very interesting thing. He said "Good prose is like a window pane"."
"Prose... that's the opposite of poetry, right? The one where it doesn't have to have a structure to it?"
"Yes, that's right," you reply, surprised but relieved that he didn't say "The one that doesn't have to rhyme".
"And if it's good, it's like a window pane..." He pauses, uncertain.
"What's the defining characteristic of a window pane?" you prompt.
"Well, I guess you can see through it."
"Exactly: transparency. In Orwell's opinion, the best writing uses clear, simple words that don't get in the way of the message."
"Okay. But... that can't be something you agree with. I mean, I've seen your writing. Don't get me wrong, it's really cool how many long words you know, but it doesn't make it very easy to read."
You sigh. It's true, you're proud of your vocabulary, and you love using it to show how clever you are. It's practically automatic. You speak this way. You even think this way. To be fair, it gives your communication subtle nuances and deft touches. But more often than not it... gets in the way. Sometimes you use it like that deliberately, as a shield. At other times, such as now, it's a prison. You wish there was someone you could trust enough to be your editor. Oh wait, yeah, duhh, as John might say.
"Rose?" John asks, cautiously, trying to work out if you're offended.
"No, you're right. It's not exactly an ideal I live up to. But it's certainly something I can admire in others."
"Um... are you getting at something?"
Perhaps it's him being obtuse... but perhaps it's you being opaque. "It's why I like you, John. You're like a window pane."
And you both grin as realisation dawns.