Monday, December 6, 2010

Paragraphs lead to pages lead to stories or chapters

It is worth remembering how much a friend writing is, even though you will have to admit it is often so demanding that you wish it would shut up.  At such times, the true extent of the friendship comes spilling forth; you do not particularly want compliant friends.  Instead you want individuals who argue you down the line, disagree with you at every turn so that when a good friend or a good sentence happen to persist in your life, you want to be on the verge of asking, What are you doing here?

Part of a community of writers is the line editing aspect, where the immediate work at hand is not critique, but actual investigations of which words have the most powerful reflecting surfaces, where such comments as I really liked that are shown up as having no tangible meaning.

You once ran a person out of the Saturday group for that critiquing mindset only to have her ask to return, pledging to have learned her way, only to have turned on a guest with the observation that the guest's name was ungrammatical.  You ran another out for refusing to send her work out for submission even though a number of the works were of high quality.  What should I care about what some strangers think of my work?  she asked.

Trying to get something out of a story is a bit more than trying to get laughter from the punch line of a joke or a groan from a truly slithery pun; qualities such as resonance and substance and nuance are all there, waiting to be exposed.  These same qualities abound in your exchanges with friends and with the time you spend with words, wrestling them about the page or the screen of some electronic device.

When life about you seems to wear tight Doc Martens, laced to extreme, there is the solace and companionship of a paragraph that is transportive.  Several paragraphs a day are the architecture of creativity.

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