What ever became of good writing, proper grammar, and fluidity of language? It appears that, once I take it upon myself to write any literary piece at all, my skill level is gravely diminished until it seems I'm but a ghost of the person I once was. All this talk I've been conducting online has taken a toll on my previously enjoyable, smooth writing abilities. I cringe every time I see parentheses and multiple interjections within one sentence. I wish I could turn my eyes every time I catch the sight of an emoticon or abbreviated term.
You're kidding, right?
Is this really me, writing all this rubbish? I sadly assure you that it is. You see, what prompted me to face the facts came in the form of white paper with blue lines. Notebook paper. Every year, I take it upon myself to write snail mail. This year I've written four letters total; it's rather pitiful, that I spend so little time on meaningful communication.
One of my letters was casually written to a girl in my church; I wished her well on her job and made simple small talk. The point of the matter was to encourage her and hopefully brighten her day. I know snail mail definitely brightens my day.
A second letter was written to an old friend of mine; I actually composed the letter 6 months before and had just recently found it, tucked away between loose sheaves of paper adorned with poetry. Refusing to let my work go to waste, I sent her the letter, along with some added information about my life and such.
The last two letters were sent to a relatively new friend of mine. This girl was in the foster care system and had very few real friends who cared about her well-being. I felt compassion for her situation and decided to befriend her; now we converse fairly regularly. My friendship with her is perhaps one of the better things I've invested my time in this year; while she isn't a Christian, I truly believe God is doing a new work in her life.
I spent the last few paragraphs talking about seemingly irrelevant information. Letter writing? What does that have to do with the previous topic of woe-is-me-I-suck-at-writing? Snail mailing is an art in itself. Not only do you attempt to harness the pen to produce calligraphic beauty on sheets of white, but you also attempt to squeeze as much meaning into as few sentences as possible.
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. --William Strunk, Jr.
Anyone who has hand-written a letter will tell you that it takes far longer than typing an email, given that you're a slow writer and fast typist. While writing emails, I generally include a lot of junk that doesn't need to be included. There are those nasty extra words that take up space and do nothing for the reader except to make you sound like an uncertain, bumbling buffoon. Snail mail, on the other hand, demands that you exclude those redundant expressions and cut to the chase.
Now what does this have to do with my personal writing, my novels?
Since I have recently picked up the pen and paper again, not only to journal daily but also to write to friends and family, I am reminded of how enjoyable it is to read witty writing that has good grammar and follows the rules of literature. Writing that is rarely sarcastic and does not draw upon poorly placed puns (sorry, alliteration not intended) to make the piece catchy; writing that does not skim the surface of the pond but dives deep into the heart of the matter. That's the type of writing I want to produce.
As I look through The Adventures of Ramsy Motch, both books 1 and 2, I find myself regretting the fact that I didn't take more time to think out the words I wanted to say. I have a plot now, at least for book 1, but there is little meaning within that plot. All I see now are characters on strings, like puppets, dancing away to whatever tune I play with the ink. I want those characters to grow and come alive. I want them to develop over the storyline and come out differently, or at least more abstract, than when I first wrote them into existence.
It doesn't just stop with the characters, though; the prose of the piece itself is lacking. However, I feel that with some tightening and tweaking, it will come out better than what it is now.
That is my lament as a self-editing writer. Now I don't just want to drop the topic here and go on as if nothing happened. I want to do something to fix the predicament I find myself in -- let me explain a bit here.
Yesterday I watched The Polar Bear King with SOTK; there is one scene where the evil witch is warned by her master that "too much evil destroys evil". Perhaps in this case, for us writers, we can say that "too much humour destroys humour" or even "too much wit destroys wit".
In my attempt to be witty and humorous, I fear I over-dosed on puns, slang, and interjections. The end result? Smelly writing that wouldn't be fit for publication, period. Therefore, I've concluded that I will use only the minimal amount of emoticons, slang, and interjections (like so) in my writing for the next week or so. We'll see how long I can keep it up. I dare all of you brave soldiers who wield the pen to join me in this endeavour. If you already write without slang, emoticons, or interjections then I applaud your style! If not, then perhaps you would consider joining me in this test to see whether cutting the junk will help us write more clearly and concisely.
I liked the challenge of writing in a very concise structure in which both meaning and form are important. --Jeffery Deaver
Signed with a quilled pen,