Last time I talked about words - and their definition, and how our assumptions can lead us down the wrong path when we try to communicate with one another...I am going to try to do a series of slightly shorter posts on specific words, now.
This one will be about the word soon. It is a word that comes up quite a lot, in life, in writing fiction, and I've been increasingly frustrated with it for the last year or so.
It's a word with almost no meaning. And we use it all the time. As soon as (ha - see?) you get to whatever point you were talking about, the word soon is completely devalued. It takes no further part in the conversation. Soon is promising, but not good enough. Soon is the highly ephemeral, theoretical future which could change at any moment, any given point in time between now and….whenever that is. It gives hope without any guarantee.
It’s nearly as bad as ‘someday’ – which always sounds very unlikely, usually used in the highly suspicious, melodramatic and romantic context of ‘we’ll see each other again someday’ (which more often than not never happens or, if it does, several decades later…) and is basically a lie or a way of making something seem a little less bleak. Soon is a weasel-word – a disguised someday, a shifty, somewhat dishonest someday.
Now, I know that's not always the case, but it’s such an irritating, weak, pathetic word. A terribly overused, intrinsically horrible word that doesn’t really mean what it says…
Soon is a promise without promising – a word given with the potential to take it away again, just as easily. Soon is a dodge – you’ll do your chores, soon. You’ll get up, soon. You’ll email that person, soon. It’s only useful when you don’t want to pin down what you mean. Or if you just don’t know.
When we’re ignorant of the future, because of either our own feelings or just the general uncertainty of a given situation, fine. Let’s use soon. But otherwise – it’s such a cowardly thing; it smacks of serious avoidance. We need a better word than soon. We should get on that. Figure it out. And I'm sure we will. Soon.