Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing is Easy!

Anybody can do it!

Heck, I'm planning on doing it myself!

I am not writing this blog because I think there's anything very special about me as a human being.  I'm not an elitist.  I am, however, a specialized human.  I know there are people out there who shop at a near-professional level.  There are people out there who feel the joy of the angels when they cook.  I have several close friends who have a distinct urge to visually capture a moment either by paint or photography.

As an example of the specialization I'm talking about, I'm going to bring my husband through the muck of my analysis for a minute.  My husband is a human being specialized for making music.  He's fascinated by science and mathematics, and, by extension, tempo and rhythm.  He listens to the timbre of voices and explores the range of what's audible wherever he is.  On one of our first dates, he took me to a city park and asked me to tell him everything I could hear.  I heard the traffic, the sighing whisper of cricket noise, a far off dog barking, chatting humans, and a trickle of water from a creek.  He heard much more, and pointed out to me the music drifting in from an open car window, the rustle of leaves from people walking past, and a breath of breeze stirring the trees and making the wood creak slightly.  It was a symphony, one I never heard before him.  He heard it every day, every moment.

It's this tendency towards sound and music that helps him make music, and makes it seem easy.  He has a gift that drives me insane: He can hear an album, and within an hour he can play back any bass track on the album.  His pitch is perfect.  And like any true artist, he looks for the challenging music.  While I'm content (for the most part) with syncopated pop music and I don't personally think slick production is the work of the devil, my husband looks for the innovative, the slightly-off, and feels deep respect for artists who can use music to challenge his own artistic bedrock.

I was born to write.  I am a student of human behavior, including all of the broken parts, because that's where plots and stories come from.  When I read, I'm constantly copy-editing, shifting words around and diagramming in my head.  I listen intently to my friends when they tell me their stories, because stories feed my brain and blood.  In my bored moments, alone and with nothing to read, I find myself scripting dialog.  Sometimes I even act it out (*blush*).  I read salacious accounts of tragedy, terror, and humiliation, because I've noticed that while everyone professes to want to hear good news, it's the bad news that sells -- both newspapers and books.  I watch a sunset and try to figure out how to paint it faithfully with adjectives, metaphors and broad poetry.  No matter how much I practice my skill, I know my place.  I read a good book and both celebrate the talent of the writer and my own inadequacies.

Again, this doesn't make me better than anyone else.  I'm lost in wonder when my best friend bakes a cake for me.  I'm mesmerized by a well-negotiated deal, or a party that seems effortless but was pulled together by a master.  I only want people to know what a writer is, and why we do what we do.

And if you come across a writer who makes it look easy, take a closer look at the writer.  See if you don't see in them what I see: Students of the world and their fellow humans.  You know, nerds.  Then consider this: Those nerds are feeding the monsters in their basements, the demanding ones who will someday roar back all the knowledge and blow your mind.

Okay, that's all I'm saying.  Carry on, dear world, carry on.


  1. I have a Jack of all trades thing going on really. I can reverse engineer magic tricks within five minutes of seeing them, I can make music (although not as well as Timi), I have a way with description, I can be very persuasive, I can cook to a certain degree and I can knit quite well.

  2. You are a student in your world and a professor in mine. I love you. xxxooo

  3. One afternoon, I noticed a sliver of moon in the sky and decided it looked like a fingernail clipping. Then I thought of what kind of mood a character would need to be in to match such a offbeat description, and how that could create conflict with an antagonist who could only view the moon with romanticized imagery.

    I don't think in terms of music or statistics or marketability. I think in terms of metaphors and characters and conflict. Ursula the sea witch said 'It's what I do, what I live for!" Except, unlike her, I actually mean it.

    Great post. Thanks for the deep thoughts.

  4. There is only one trait that marks the writer. He is always watching. It’s a kind of trick of the mind and he is born with it.

    ~ Morley Callahan

    Nice post, MJ