Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The Art of Writing No. 22
What differentiates a professional writer from a writer, i.e. any literate individual? In the last blog I showed examples of how we must interfere with regular brain patterns to produce something worth reading as a fictional artefact. Just because everyone can run doesn’t mean that they are athletes worth entering for prizes and being watched by millions. Obviously, being a professional writer involves discriminating your text from the humdrum realities of every day communication. Under normal circumstances your brain is tuned to do the minimum required to accomplish any act. So – knitting is difficult at first and requires programming the brain to do pearl and plain and follow graphic patterns but soon you can knit and watch the television – or, during the French Revolution, watch heads roll under the guillotine. Knitting is relegated to an autonomous part of the brain.
Establishing a unique style that is communicative and expressive and draws readers into your world needs an interference with basic brain patterns, as I have said. Just as with knitting, editing our writing is extremely onerous and laborious at first. By being ruthless with our work, appraising every word, finding better similes and metaphors, cutting out flab and all the tiny acts of improvement in which we must engage, our writing becomes more honed and effective. And, like knitting, as we exercise our brain muscle and write in a disciplined way every day, we find the need for drastic editing actually diminishes. Our brains become configured to what becomes known as our ‘style’. This does not mean that editing becomes eliminated. Not at all. But it does mean that editing can concentrate on felicitous expression rather than the chopping away of crude surpluses. Raymond Carver, long regarded as the master of the concise short story, never mastered it. Latterly, it turns out that his unheralded editor did it. Whether true or not, the essence of the story is that it is in the editing that style is finally nailed to the page.
It took me three months to edit Azimuth, with professional help and I still find slight wrinkles that irk me.It took my alter ego, Eric le Sange, a month to do the same for The Strange Attractor.
The Strange Attractor by Eric le Sange Kindle Amazon