When I conceived the idea of writing the first of these columns 6453 days ago, they were at first wildly unpolished stream-of-consciousness. I belted them out quickly, after just a few minutes at my keyboard during post-walk rest and morning coffee, within minutes – hitting SEND.
Looking back, some of that early work is abundantly and painfully clear – weak and meek, half-raw, and intermittently ghastly first drafts.
One might expect readers would have fled, but they didn’t.
To readers who continue to tag along with me, I am grateful – not so much that any of you have read my every line or that you do every day, but knowing you are out there and connecting with me this way, inspires me to carry on and partly explains why I don’t quit.
Just as writing can bare a great deal, it can also camouflage wholly or partially divulge in ways that make everything appear smaller than it is. My experience has been that every self-doubt leaked onto the page; somehow, every pain gets revealed, every heartbreak gets explored, and every joy gets celebrated.
Words fall from my brain; I catch them, put them on a page like capturing freshly squeezed juice …
That’s the first, often the easiest part. I’m continuously learning this craft of massaging and moving words and their accompanying facts around, but no technique changes an idea; instead, it serves to better reveal that thought, point, or feeling.
My mentor, the late Frank Dabbs, validated my effect, “Mark, you write the way you talk,” to which I nodded, but he went on to inform me most writers have difficulty writing that way.
I’ve never felt I had that conscious a recipe – or any technique or style I was crafting, nor was that someone else’s I was copycatting.
I’ve tried to understand and learn from Frank’s advice and this progression, perhaps a symbiotic growth of readers following alongside me, getting to know me as I was getting to know me.
It’s been said many ways by many wise writers that: I write to find out what I think. That’s how it appears to be; ideas get twisted, mixed, and squeezed out …
I find drafting on a screen so much more expedient than longhand notes I struggle to decipher because of atrocious and hasty penmanship. To write, then cut / paste, rearrange and spin these words is, in my mind, like the potter’s hands covered in wet clay as their wheel spins – not knowing if they are making a delicate vase, a passable ashtray, or trash heap waste.
Conversations are to relationships, as words are to pages.
Tiny bits build, accumulate until fulfilling some value proposition, then we turn to another person or another page. Meaning and purpose aren’t elusive, but moving convincing arguments and ideas from one mind to another is magic of massive proportion that falls flat often. Or lightning striking.
My search for better understanding of others is an emotional shield, I suppose, for understanding myself better.
We write to reveal or conceal, grab our reader by their heart, then give it a hard squeeze. Some days I take a hundred-word problem and squeeze out a thousand-word solution, but then need to squeeze it down again.
I agree completely. As a whole, Canadians and Americans are different, but we are both made up of a large pool of diverse thinkers. I’ve run into Canadians who think we should be more like Americans and sometimes I’ve even suggested if they think America is that much better they should move there. I trust there are Americans who feel the same way about Canada. Unfortunately the best of both worlds isn’t available on either side of the border and we all have to choose. Another case of bemoaning our lack of perfection instead of celebrating what we have? LH, Lethbridge, AB