{2} meditation on writing

The following entry was written some months ago in my personal journal. I’m reusing it here (instead of being clever and writing something totally new) because I’m in the thick of my exams and I’ve barely got time to sleep let alone meander my way through a proper blog. Fresh writing resumes next week, by which time I shall (hopefully) have far more interesting tidbits to share.

My writing has come a long way. It has. It’s just that now I’m thinking it’s come a long way in the wrong way. I mean, there’s no wrong way to write (unless it’s the burn-before-reading kind of literature) but I think I approached the busines of learning to write in a bad way.

Let’s pretend my writing is a block of wood. What I want to create is lying in that block of wood somewhere, already perfectly formed just waiting for me to carve it out in all its perfection. Once upon a time I used to only a have a rough idea of what that creation was and I’d very inexpertly chop at the wood and get an approximation of the end result but not the actual thing. (I’m being modest here; usually what I ended up with was nowhere near the right thing).

These days I’m a little bit better, but still not where I ought to be. My writing vocabulary has improved, but it’s much too far ahead of my style. It’s like I’m attacking the block of wood with fine carving tools, focusing too much on the details of writing (like what’s being said) rather than the big picture (like who’s saying it and how and why).

I need to put the paint brush down – I’m not ready for that yet – and pick up a wood stripper. Get down to the bare bones of the thing. Carve out a rough approximation, don’t pay too much attention to detail, just work from the heart with patience and steady fingers (and a healthy dose of courage!). And when I can finally see what it is I’ve always been working at (I hope to God it’s pretty) then I can sand it down and detail the hell out of that m**f**.

And then it’ll be more than just another piece of wood, it’ll be art.

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