When I read weblog entries like this, linked from metatalk, lots of conflicting explosions go off in my head. It’s not about the topic at all, but about the way things are expressed that causes these internal conflicts… and they have nothing to do with the person who did the writing either.
Often, it seems that those considered the ‘best’ writers in the weblog world are those who appear most well read, intellectual, and who can string together a complex sentence using diverse references, with multi-syllabic words while actually making relevant points. (Somewhat like that last sentence, but more.) On the surface at least. And that’s somewhat like analyzing a poem word by word – has nothing to do with the creating, just the product analysis. There is definitely a certain craft involved in this type of expression, and some do it extremely well. When I read these weblog entries and the highly appreciative comments, I start feeling like that’s what *I* should be aspiring to in my own writing. But there’s a problem with that.
The problem is that, although the artfully woven phrases are wondrous for their own reasons, my own developed writing voice seems much different. A practical German-American-ish upbringing, years as a technical writer and editor where the “Keep It Simple, Stupid!” concept is king, and a deep submergence into the metaphysical seemed to have honed a direct and upfront approach to writing (or so it seems to me – heh). Not only that, but the conceptual aspects behind an entry such as the one linked above are what I focus on more – I look at the point of what was trying to be said, almost tuning into the energy behind the words, rather than reading the words themselves. Sometimes the words become an annoying labyrinth rather than a supportive map and after I’m done I think, “I could have said that in two sentences.” The concept? Yes. The art? Not even close. The art is of the individual and the distillation of that to a few simple concepts is general, and I must remember to stop mixing up the two or sidelining the individual because of my own word biases.
I sometimes wonder if this is due to my desire to get to the root of all things, in each moment, even if I’m not sure what that means. I think the words distract me because of my technical writing background – I use them too intellectually, and forget to savor them for their own sake. I have no problem savoring paintings, for instance, I don’t get distracted by literal shapes or find truth only in abstracts. Colors carry me no matter how they are used. Words can be the same way, if you let them; if you open to the right-brainness of the words and not just the left-brainness.
And I would love to write a novel, but I think I have to forge some new neural pathways in my head that allow writing for the journey and not for the descriptive destination or concept. The explanatory writing is what comes automatically for me right now – that isn’t born from the urge for self-expression as much from the urge for clear communication. But my reaction to that weblog entry, and my creating of this one, has helped show me that I’ve been looking for a new voice, perhaps something somewhere between self-expression and clear communication, perhaps more than either. I don’t care if what I write is considered ‘good writing’ by others – it just has to meet my own, as of yet undeveloped, criteria. But, just as I created my own rules for good technical writing, I will have to create my own rules for good… creative?… writing, and in so doing, find a new part of myself as well, I suppose. Oh, great, all this crazy writing, and now I’ve gone and scared myself silly.