To care about the state and quality of writing today is to scream into a void while knowing that the void does nothing but laugh.
“you grab the sensations inside your mind and put them into coherent sentences on the page.” I like your wording here to describe writing. The overused advice “Write what you know” never worked as well for me as “write what you feel.” Sometimes I would grab a random photograph, either one of my own or a stock photo I liked, and then craft a story around it. I’d allow my emotions and feelings to guide me. Amazingly, stories often emerged. I had no idea where they came from in me. Sometimes random, out of left field, but they were often my best stories. I guess this is why I don’t favor outlines much. They seem to stifle my creativity the way reading notes while playing the piano feels wooden compared to improvisational playing.
Fascinating and thought provoking read. (Also, I have to admit I'd never thought about Latinate words. Yikes! Or, yay?) I think you're right that much of writing advice is actually editing advice. Maybe because the actual "writing" part is so much trickier to teach, insofar as it comes from somewhere beyond words.
"To reveal what's inside your mind, you must understand, quite obviously, whats inside your mind." -- YES. In a lot of ways, I think this is why writing makes for pretty effective therapy.
Grateful to have discovered your work!
Wonderful. Thank you!
“The edicts come fast against wordiness, redundancies, and modifiers, because writing instruction has devolved into a list of prohibitions. Is it not a curious sensibility to establish a writing ethos that’s measured by the deletion of words?”
It is indeed curious.
(Then those uni students graduate and become literary agents. Now we’re all in trouble.)
I went to art school, where we were warned that every rule taught had to be broken, forgotten, or questioned to create something of our own. Our teachers told us to do whatever the F we wanted, and let no one take that away from us. Later, I studied these rules of good writing too, but when I write, it’s me alone with a keyboard and the idea coalescing. There is thought, but there is also rhythm and color and form. There is focus and temperature. Don't tell me no one talks about the more abstract nature of writing.
I wonder if something like maximalism might once again come back in style instead of the spare, MFA-style that's become the norm.
When I just started writing in English, my second language, I became obsessed with all these how-to-write books. But when to Stephen King's "forget-about-adverbs" rule, I got Virginia Woolf's (or Christopher Isherwood's, for that matter) sentences packed with — guess what — adverbs that I, as a reader, actually loved, I came to a simple realization that rules help us but are also here to be broken. And the best piece of advice on writing I have ever had goes like this: Want to write? Read a lot.
As someone in college taking writing classes, this really resonated with me. I've had classes where the professor merely offers us two different points of view -- is voice useful or useless, are branching or periodic sentences more impactful, etc. -- and allows to come to our own conclusions, which made the class harder but more fulfilling. Others share their do's and don'ts, and, as much as the advice is very useful, I wonder how other authors were successfully to do the don'ts. In terms of long vs short writing, thankfully most professors have accepted my long, pushing-over-the-word-count writing. It would be so disappointing to have them force me to chop sentences in half, although I can somewhat feel the pressure to cut things down due to my generation's reading habits.
The present of writing is always execrable. We, the living, have to make the first pass. We are often wrong.
This was a good read, thank you. I read for a good story, but I also look for good prose. Because I read to be challenged, and to expand my vocabulary. There are times I read a sentence or a paragraph and get shivers down my spine, just because the words were perfect. I can't explain why, and I don't want to. There isn't enough wonder left in the world.
A great read, and nice to know there are plenty of people railing against being economical, lean, etc. when it comes to writing.