11 January 2018

Words & Thoughts

Another day, another entry. It’s earlier today than I have been posting. About 6:30 in the morning. I woke up a half hour ago. Made coffee. Made the bed. Read an email that my sister is coming to visit my parents with their first grandchild. Mom invited everyone for an afternoon visit two weeks from now. The entire family will be there. It will be an interesting afternoon. I’m resistant to doing things with my extended family. This isn’t something I want to write about today.

There is a pattern in my writing. A pattern in the actual words. I am never direct. I run around the subject. Stephen King, I believe, said to write your meaning in as few words as possible (this is a difficult thing to practice when one’s goal is 750 words a day). I use but, which, yet, however all too much. I use adverbs and adjectives as if I have a bowl of them on my desk, plunging my hand into it and picking one at random for each and every sentence. Phrases like I believe, I feel, or I think. These are especially egregious. You know it is me; I am the one writing.

Do words modify how we think? Or do I write this way because of the way I think? Could one influence the other? What would it take to be more succinct with my writing?

I wrote fiction more when I was younger. My major at university was Creative Writing (too bad I still don’t have a degree and this is the year I will finally pay off my school loans). My fiction writing was full of flowery language and adverbs and adjectives. I had one writing teacher tell me that my short stories were almost like poetry. She also stated that being like poetry was a hindrance to moving the story along.

Knowing that I tend to write flowery language and take a languorous path to meaning, I can be more aware of it. When I received my three year review at work, the one piece of feedback I had a hard time accepting was that I need to be more sure of myself. I need to be more decisive and direct. I didn’t make the connection between that feedback and the wishy-washiness of my personal life.

The thing is, I like novels written like poetry. I like metaphors and similes. They make for a strong story, it’s visceral, it allows me to drop into the story. Reading a sentence that connects me to the characters in the story is like a lightning bolt moving through me. I need to reign in my overtly flowery language and create stronger metaphors and similes.

Back to the questions. Can changing the way I write affect my thinking? Can flowery language still have a place? Last year, I read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was one of the most phenomenal books I’ve read in quite some time. The language in that book was…astonishing, brilliant. Reading that book made it feel like I was with the characters in World War II. The language in that book moved the story along. It only enhanced and rose up the story. I actually cried reading that book.

I will be more conscious of the words I type. However, one of the rules for writing 750 words a day is that I can’t edit the entries. They need to come out raw and untouched. This doesn’t mean I can’t look up how to spell a word or check a thesaurus for a better one. But, I can’t do much else. I can’t sit on a draft and run through it a second time. I can’t receive feedback from a friend or editor (like I have an editor). I can’t revisit days later to change something. It’s sort of like taking a picture of yourself every day during an exercie and training regime. You want to see the progress. You want to experience the joy that comes with getting better, looking better, feeling better.

This rawness is part of the reason why some of these entries are sporadic and chaotic. The first half of an entry doesn’t have a relation to the second half. I’m okay with that. At the end of the day, these entries are for me, not for you. I have found that posting to a public blog, even if I’m the only one that has read it so far, changes the content and flow of my writing. When writing in my journal, it feels a bit pedantic. Here on the blog, there’s a difference. I try a little harder to be coherent. I’m less prone to whine and bitch, which I find refreshing.

Categorized in Thoughts