Monday, June 25, 2012

Write a Little Every Day




Write a Little Every Day
“Write a little every day, without hope, without despair,” said Isak Dinesen.  The name Isak Dinesen is the pseudonym for Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (1885-1962), a Danish author who wrote Out of Africa and Babette’s Feast.
I do write every day.  I write between five hundred and twenty-five hundred words.  That’s not too challenging.  The “without hope, without despair” part is difficult.  I don’t always accomplish that.
I think my writing is improving.  I learn and use new skills. I try fresh methods and practise without fail.  Yet, there are times when I feel…well, if not despair, then…disappointment because it can be a challenge to see any progress.
I look back through my first blog entries, those from last year.  There are differences.  Reviewing them shows me that I have learned to let go of using adjectives everywhere.  But, I’ve learned that a well-chosen adjective around a noun can be useful in limiting the number of associations which can arise in a reader’s mind.  I’ve learned to beat the bushes of any piece I write to flush out the adverbs and then to cull them.  I’ve learned that both adjectives and adverbs saturating the page make the reader tired and confused and limit the reader’s imagination.
The best posts I’ve written are those in which I’ve been honest, shared emotions and refrained from quoting others again and again, in attempts to shore up my insecurities.  My best posts connect with the reader in direct ways, show new ways of seeing, understanding and enjoying the world.  The best are written from my heart; then refined by my head through careful revisions.
Sometimes, most times, it is helpful for me to write a piece; to leave it alone long enough so that it begins to feel unfamiliar.  Not mine.  That helps me to be objective, to see my writing for what it is.  And this helps me to revise without remorse, to hack out the parts that need to go.
What else?  I read every day.  There are stacks of books on the kitchen table, beside my bed and on my desk.  I read poetry, short stories and novels.  I read my thesaurus and my dictionary.  I research about my writing and my topics, at the library, on the Internet and with other writers.  I listen to published (and hoping to be published) writers reading from and talking about their work.   I follow writing courses when I can afford to do so, which is not as often as I would like and not often enough.  All help me to expand what I know and what and how I am writing.  Still, it is slow going.
In my daily 500 to 2500 words, there are ups and downs.  Some days I’m tired, forget the guidelines, and just want to get something, anything down on paper.   Other days, the magic is there and words flow--not perfect, but better.  And, once in a while after studying and writing and revising and writing, again and again, a piece will yield a sentence so lovely that I wonder, is this mine?  Or an image so ethereal and strange that I wonder, where did this come from?  And I recognize intuitively that something unique and new has been created.
These luminous moments keep me going with hope, and for a time, keep me going without disappointment or despair.
And so, I write…
And so, I learn…



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4 comments:

Sally Wendkos Olds said...

Beautiful piece about writing -- its joys and its despairs.

Carol Steel 5050 said...

Thank you Sally. The ups and downs are part of my process and part of me. Welcome to the blog.

aprille said...

Carol,if you only knew how glad I am to have found you. We seem to share the same wave length. This post is so well thought out and thought through.
I dismiss novels or even non-fiction right from the first page. First paragraph sometimes.
And it is always cluttered adjectives that put me off.
Poetry is a little different of course, as we crystalize our feelings in narrower formation.
Fascinating to see somebody realize this about their own writing and put it down so succinctly.
Why did I go to June 2012 to get to know you?
Midsummer posts are usually the cheeriest :-)

Carol Steel said...

Oh Aprille, how kind you are! I am glad that you like what I wrote. I struggle more than I am at ease with writing. And writing poetry pulls at something in me that longs to be heard, an essence of truth about life and about myself. Thank you for visiting my blog and for encouragements.