Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been 10 days since my last post.
I have been envious lately of English majors; they who have spent extended periods concentrating on language, words, books, and comparative analysis of same. The English majors are revealed by their more excellent prose, by their bent for literary stylings.
Having received less instruction in the style and usage of the English language than these, I find that I trail drastically far behind in my ability to artfully (or even correctly) arrange letters, and spaces, and punctuation marks to communicate beautifully and precisely with the written word. I tell myself that some credit is due me for originality of thought and boldness of utterance. But truly I know that these matter little. A writer, above all else, is judged by her writing. And so, I have been envious of English majors lately. I have regretted time otherwise spent in my studies. I have wondered if this is even a feasible hope–to write.
But hope is. Feasibility does not come into it.
In hope, last week I purchased nine books, including two grammar and composition workbooks, test prep materials essentially. I began re-learning all the rules that I might have learned better the first go-round had I realized earlier what it meant to write.
In hope, I continue to work my way through the classics of literature. Attempting to see, through lenses fixed in this time and place and affixed to my particular eyes, the timelessness of these works and what makes them so.
In hope, I write, and keep on writing, believing that writing is craft as well as art, and, thus, can be learned and improved upon. Surely the great ones, even, in early days, were merely good, were sometimes not good, in their writing.
One of the nine books that I purchased last week was The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art by Joyce Carol Oates. I know little of this author, but was encouraged and inspired by her words:
Don’t be discouraged! Don’t cast sidelong glances, and compare yourself to others among your peers! (Writing is not a race. No one really “wins.” The satisfaction is in the effort, and rarely in the consequent rewards, if there are any.) And again, write your heart out. ….
Language is an icy-cool medium, on the page. Unlike performers and athletes, we get to re-imagine, revise and rewrite completely if we wish. Before our work is set in print, as in stone, we maintain our power over it. The first draft may be stumbling and exhausting, but the next draft or drafts will be soaring and exhilarating. Only have faith: the first sentence can’t be written until the last sentence has been written. Only then do you know where you’ve been going, and where you’ve been.
The novel is the affliction for which only the novel is the cure.
And one final time: Write your heart out.
I do believe I will. My heart has much to say.