These past few years, I’ve learned a lot about writing from an assortment of sources. The art of effortless storytelling. How to come up with pithy pieces. Which writing faux pas are frowned upon and which are forgiven. I’d like to think I’ve absorbed some of this knowledge, but these days my brain feels like grandma’s old sieve, so those lessons aren’t always reflected in my writing.
But the hardest lesson, by far, has been about writing with restraint. Creating stories with an economy of both thought and word. Being frugal with adjectives and downright miserly with adverbs. Storytelling with a degree of haughtiness. Apparently, writing like this is a sign of a focused and organized mind — one that knows what it wants to say and doesn’t resort to ruffles and lace to hold the reader’s attention. Carefully chosen words, precisely woven sentences with nary a whiff of purple prose. Famous authors worldwide adopt this technique, or so I’ve been told, and have the dollars and blue checkmarks to show for it.
I don’t write like that — I cannot write like that. My thoughts don’t line up like neat little packages on a conveyor belt, ripe for the plucking. Even on my best days, I’m a proud rambler — prone to long-winded scene settings and adverbs galore. And when I put my fingers on the keyboard, I want to bond with the person who’ll eventually read these words. Greet them and offer them wine and take them on a journey. The pricey, behind-the-scenes tour where photographs are allowed and everything is explained in ambitious, grandiose terms. My hope is they’ll come out on the other side, a little disoriented but feeling like they got their money’s worth.
See? I cannot write with restraint.
The good news is I’ve also learned about not giving a damn and writing however you want. Putting every thought on paper and enjoying the glorious chaos of it all. And if my books don’t find a vast audience, then so be it. I’ll still love them and sign copies for friends and family.
In conclusion: I cannot and will not write with restraint.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to write a lengthy paragraph on how plump clouds arranged themselves across a late evening sky.