Musings by Heather Sylvawood
This morning started with a bit of a hiccup – I had a flat battery. The car I am currently driving doesn’t have mod-cons like warning beeps if you turn off the car while the lights are still on. It does, in fact, assume you will be vigilant and remember … duh!
Once the battery issue was solved by the nice young man from AA, I set off.
Now I don’t usually drive a manual. Anyone driving behind me could probably tell. I often manage to confuse the slot for third gear with the slot for fifth gear. Consequently I’m either over-revving or stuttering under the strain of a gear jump.
All of these faux pas instantly connect with the blood supply to my face.
Battering my self-confidence
Taking the back route (less chance of shaming myself in front of others), I rattled along, berating myself for every mistake and generally giving my self-confidence I right battering.
Then, in one of those break-through moments, I realised that this is what I do when I’m writing! I leap forward and write heaps, and then I re-read and start to doubt myself, comparing my first draft writing with the polished published writing of others. I compare my least polished with their pristine.
Recently I have been reading a selection of writers – the series writer, romance writers, mystery writers, New Zealand writers, and Christian writers. I find myself picking up proofing errors (ahhh … the permanency of print against eBooks) and even clumsy language which their editors surely should have noticed. What’s been happening to me is I have been developing my critical eye. Only this time it isn’t for my own work but for that of others.
The Critical Eye is valuable
I am beginning to realise that my over-revving and stuttering gait probably mirrors that of other writers. They too must feel lacking when comparing themselves to the honoured writers of our culture. That critical eye, however, is what keeps writers improving.
As well as noting the less-than-perfect, the joy of my research is that I am also identifying clever writing.
I recently read Tiger Lillie by Lisa Samson, a Christian writer living in Maryland, USA. I love her style. She manages to convey so much more in simple descriptions and with such humour, I want to come back for more. Take the following example:
“I’ve always loved evening. Even back then, as a chubby, bug-eyed little girl who also loved a good joke, that time of day sobered me and filled me with peace. I know now it’s due to the fact that the clock never stops ticking down and the time for making the day’s mistakes draws to a sweet close. Even the circumstances in which to make these blunders fly away, for in the twilight we simply sit and breathe quietly, cross our fingers and hope the phone won’t ring or the Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t come to the door.”
What craft! How much does she reveal about her character in a passage ostensibly about ‘evening’?
Research good writer and author examples
By reading the work of others I am observing the unusual word construction, the insightful capture of character, and the clever development of plot.
Research is important, be that by reading the work of others, or finding out what is capturing the readers of the day. Writing, however, is the key to becoming a writer. So it’s back to the computer for me.
Oh! Yes. I am writing. A blog!