The first secret of good writing: We must look intently, and hear intently, and taste intently . . . we must look at everything very hard. ... Out of this intensity of observation we derive two important gains. We learn to write precisely; and we fill our storehouse with the images that one day we will fashion into similes and metaphors. -- James J. Kilpatrick
Well. That feels like an entire writing class to me. Thank you, Mr. Kilpatrick.
There is something exhilarating about this quote.
Probably because: it does not describe me at all right now.
I have been living on the surface, my friends. Skimming along, trying to deal with the urgent things before they get out of control, taking care of immediate needs. I have not stolen the time to sit still, breathe deeply, and look close.
And while that keeps home life simmering happily, it is wreaking havoc on my writing.
Which has filled up with adverbs. Oh, adverbs. The sign of sloppy thinking.
Dull word, dull word, blah verb, and then a whole wodge of adverbs and cheap adjectives marching in to fluff out the image.
This is not how I like to work.
I get that it's just a draft and all, but I miss feeling that zing of precise wording. I miss grabbing hold of the exact right word and setting it in the exact right place: the kind of writing that makes me feel like I'm building a stone fence instead of slinging sentences.
I need to fill my mind up with that precise language again. I need to look intently.
It takes time. Determination. And maybe a few hardy habits.
I've been trying to get back into the swing of reading poetry. Poetry's not something you can absorb quickly, have you noticed? The words and the image and the meaning underneath it: all of that has to sort of seep in. You savor the words. Breathe through the lines. And then sit with it when it's done.
No rushing allowed.