Archive for December 14th, 2008

Writing: Playing With Matches.
December 14, 2008

I fell in love — that is the only expression I can think of — at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy.

Dylan Thomas

I talk a lot about writing and magic — that magical writing that takes hard-won quality of craft and which forges an instant connection with the reader.

Yesterday, as I was cleaning shrimp, removing the tiniest, most fragile vein, it reminded me of the magic in writing. The best writing finds that vein in the mind and heart and plugs in effortlessly.

Magical writing is an easy communication, a writing that appears effortless. Magical writing is a form of validation that inside these minds and bodies (and especially hearts) we’re not alone — someone else recognizes that inner landscape and describes it with a sense of communion or wonder.

That’s what I strive for in my writing, and it’s only when I’m querying my work that the doubtful fog creeps in. While I want my writing to be perfect, I know perfection isn’t possible. I don’t find the magic, there. 

Perhaps the magic is like a candle on the kitchen counter, flickering as you pound away at the computer, lighting the way as you work your craft. Go to the light! You may be tempted to sanitize your writing, edit it into cardboard or endlessly doubt or berate your grasp of the English language, especially when you know an agent may not read past the first paragraph. 

Go to the light.

That’s where the magic lives. I write my way there with all my might. 

Sure, it’s a candle in the wind — a writer’s efforts at publication versus being true to ones writing self. But in being true, therein lies the magic — and perhaps the magic will work its magic, being magic, after all.

If magical writing is a deep breath that inhales the world, then self-doubt is the exhale that blows it out.

Go to the light.