Background Switcher (Hidden)

On Writing

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Novelist Pico Iyer said, "The less conscious one is of being 'a writer,' the better the writing. And though reading is the best school of writing, school is the worst place for reading. Writing should ... be as spontaneous and urgent as a letter to a lover, or a message to a friend who has just lost a parent ... and writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger."

I suppose one could substitute "blogging" in that last sentence.

Writing: I love to read what writers say about writing. And I never feel closer to the bones of the craft than when I'm blogging. I like blogging because it's the most elemental form of writing--spontaneous and driven by inspiration. It's not as daunting as writing an article or (God forbid) a book; it's a little present you make and then wrap up and give away. Because I'm so visually oriented, pairing images with writing is just pure fun. On the flip side, not being able to insert a digital photo every 50 words becomes a little dull by comparison.

I subscribe to The Writer's Almanac, an email service that sends me tasty chunks about writers and writing every single day. You can sign up here. Here are some nice bits:

"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." EL Doctorow

He said it. I rarely know where a piece is really going when I start it. I'm working on an article on Nebraska that has become an edgy digression into sandhill crane hunting--even now, I can hardly type those three words together. Just writing it is a learning experience. I realized in the process that I'd been doing a slow boil about the issue ever since I learned that people do shoot sandhill cranes, way back in 1992, in New Mexico.

It's hard anymore to write something that's just informative, just useful, just workmanlike. The older I get, the quicker I am to stumble over my own feelings about whatever I'm writing about. And the faster I run from subjects about which I have no feelings. In the end, it's the stumble that's interesting.

That was the last of the posts I prepared before we left. Obviously written while I could put a sentence together. Sorry about the somewhat disjointed nature of the last ten posts, but I wanted to give you something to read while we were gone. Phoebe did a great job! Imagine leaving one's blog to a 9-year-old! Soon she'll have her own...

We're back from beautiful Guatemala, as of 2 AM. In bed by 3 and up at 6:00 to some very excited and lovingly tended kids, plants, bird, fish and Chet Baker. The theme of the day: bleary clothing management. It's in the 20's but sunny and warming fast. How wonderful to be home, piles of icky sweaty laundry, bills, mail and all. How amazing to have Bill's dad and mom take care of our kids the entire time. They're happy and healthy as horses, and we are deeply in debt to Bill and Elsa. Neighbor Maggie did a spectacular job with the plants; the orchids and greenhouse are perfectly watered and in full bloom--what a greeting! We're thankful to have had the opportunity to bird Guatemala for 9 days, and I'm eager to download the last roll of photos and tell you all about it. But you deserve better than this poor mushy brain, fit only for laundry. Hasta luego!


[Back to Top]