Ah…the fine art of communication! Whether it is describing the details of a wedding dress over the phone, having a misunderstanding with your spouse, expressing yourself professionally in an unexpected phone interview or trying to find the perfect ending for a paragraph, communicating well is hard work. I know. I was struggling with my words in all of these situations today. No question though….writing is the worst.
You would think that after taking the past eight months off so that I could concentrate on writing a book, I would be improving in this particular skill. Perhaps I am – encouraging friends tell me so – but I can tell you that there are moments that I wonder if I even grasp the basics of this language. Despite solitude and the perfect setting – I sat outside for most of the day, wrapped in a blanket, listening to the glorious lapping of waves as background music – the words were dancing all over the page and just wouldn’t settle into their rightful sentences. At least they were dancing, as opposed to doing absolutely nothing, I am thankful for that.
I decided to walk away from it for a while. I did some dishes, grabbed a snack and eventually returned to my snuggly, warm blanket, only to discover that the battle was still raging – the words were still not cooperating with me.
The sun is going down now and the sky is striped with a beautiful mix of soft orange and blues, which happens to perfectly match the flower colors in my window box. Very cool. However, this astute observation has absolutely nothing to do with finishing this new and hopefully, improved book proposal. I’m finding there are good days when the words flow like honey and then there are other days that they come out more like globs of peanut butter, stuck on a plate – any way you hold that plate, the peanut butter doesn’t move.
Writing is a crazy discipline. Rewriting is painful. Simplify. Get rid of the clutter.
William Zinsser says it well. “Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it is because it IS hard.
Yet, for some bizarre reason, I can hardly wait to get back to it tomorrow morning. When a sentence says what I want it to say, it is pure delight. There is nothing better.