As the Writer Writes #1 – Inflection Point

This is the first in a new series of reflections and musings about writing.  Sometimes this will be considering a word or concept. Sometimes a more serious thing about writing, but mostly it’s about what I’m thinking about during the writing process. 

Sometimes words just get stuck in my head.  This week it is, “inflection point.”  There’s a poem hiding in those two words.  There’s a feel on the tongue that is just satisfying as it starts with the soft relaxed, “en” and concluding with the sharp snap of “t” – “in flec tion poin t” The sound starts vague and casual, but ends with a decisive click of the tongue off the roof of the mouth as a final bust of air concludes the thought.

Inflection point.

There’s a poem there.  It both starts and ends there.

By definition it’s a mathematic term meaning the point where a curve changes sign or slope.  It’s the point where a curve changes direction – the point of undulation.  Consider a sine wave plotted on a graph, it curves up for awhile and then curves down.  The inflection point is where the wave changes.  Think of writing the letter U.  Starting on the left we draw our pen downwards until it touches the bottom line and then we curve it back up. It’s that point at the bottom that we call the inflection point.

Sometimes it’s a business term, describing that time of significant change.  Perhaps a product takes off and profits soar, or disaster strikes and income plummets – a turning point.

Extend the words beyond science and now there’s a metaphor.  Think of a time in your life when things changed direction.  Perhaps retirement, marriage, divorce, death, illness, addiction …. all can be that point when your life changes direction.  Families, cities, nations, ideologies, religions … all have the points in their existence when things change directions.  Fire, flood, drought, famine, earthquake, war …

Consider that point of change.  A poem, many poems, live at that point in time.

It’s the poet’s job to consider the undulations of life and bring out in word those points of change.  Those points where we gain and where we lose – where story exists.

That poem ends, “inflection point,” where our tongue clicks and our lungs push the words into the wind.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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12 Responses to As the Writer Writes #1 – Inflection Point

  1. Lakshmi Bhat says:

    Fascinating and am looking forward ro read more about what you are going to write. It happens to me too. Some words keep coming to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this essay, Andrew! It’s such a well-crafted combination of poetry and prose, art and science. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good start to your new series, Andrew. Looking forward to your musings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am going to love this series, Andrew. I can tell already. When you mentioned the letter ‘u’ it was as if you were in my thought process. I spend a little time studying writing and calligraphy and alluding to the inflection point(s) in letters is certainly fitting. I also enjoy the ‘art of language’ which I suppose can be poetic or not. Excellent writing is as exciting to me as excellent artwork. I look forward to your thoughts on writing and language. 🙂 Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SusanR says:

    Hard for me to think of it as poetic given its frequent if not overuse in negative news.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dave says:

      Susan makes a good point but I still enjoyed the depth of your analysis (neither too shallow nor too deep – just right). I got a little stuck on “undulation” though. A slithering snake kept me company for the rest of the post.

      Liked by 1 person

    • poetic isn’t always pleasant or thoughtful. Sometimes it leverages misuse to make a point. I’ve been working on a poem using the word, “Iconic” which is currently being used to meaninglessness.


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