I’m intensely interested in language; I think all writers are. We find the intricacies of them fascinating and seek to master it the way that a mason masters the use his trowel, square, and compass. We frame our message using the grammar, metre, and precise word selection to ensure that we not only convey our point but our emotions as well. We paint a picture with words in the same way that an artist would use oils on canvas.
International travel therefore provides the writer or orator, that pilgrim of language, the opportunity to learn and experiment with a foreign language. The metre, syntax, grammar, and inflection will all be alien to him. But what fun he will have! Signs in both English and the host language will provide the easiest way to decipher the mysteries of this new language; much like sign posts leading him down the road of autdidactism.
Once he’s built his confidence in comprehension of this new language, he’ll test the waters with short phrases and questions. “Sil-vous plait, je voudrais un bier.” “Oui, monsieur.” And the bartender will bring him his pint of beer. Or he’ll find himself at some pizzeria in Rome: “Scusi, signori, I would like un vino. . . and, um, one of these (He then points to the menu; pointing always works).” “Of course, signori. Uno momento.”
Eventually, mastery will come. Eventually the seeker will graduate from pidgin communication to full fluency. Which is a day of much rejoicing, as he orders off of the menu without any hesitation.
As many of you may have figured out by now, I enjoy writing. It wasn’t always so. In my younger years, I used to despise it, viewing the act as nothing but a chore to be muddled through. Somehow, during all of my obstinance and procrastinating, I actually became a decent writer, or at least my teachers thought so. In fact, my English teacher in my junior year in high school fought tooth and nail with me to try and convince me to write. I could have cared less then, my focus being on playing football and trying to look cool for all of the girls in my class. But Mrs. S insisted, even dragging me to a writers’ retreat on the shores of Lake Arrowhead run by UCLA. This wasn’t all bad, though, as I got to spend a few nights hot-tubbing with some rather attractive young lasses from other schools. The retreat did give me an opportunity to actually focus on writing and in the process I really learned to like the practice, the ability to ability to put my creative energies to some use being a catharsis of sorts. But I’d never admit that anyone, my own pigheaded stubbornness and ego being far more important than my need to create. I did start a blog, though, excusing it away as a playground to practice my HTML coding skills in, still refusing to admit that I did in fact like to write. I really didn’t fool anyone, but pride cometh before the fall.
After many years of fighting it, I’ve finally given in and have maintained my current blog as time has allowed, and have even begun the adventure of writing a novel all my own. Over the course of writing I’ve run into a few areas of difficulty that have impended the creative process. For the sake of my own sanity, and perhaps that of other writers, I’ll share them below:
- It is insanely difficult to write dialogue that reads and or sounds real and not forced. In order to do it effectively, you need to write it how you would speak it. Include the guttural sounds and peculiarities of accent if need be.
- My tendency to be a perfectionist causes me far more headaches than it needs to. At times I find myself typing out whole paragraphs, reading them back, and then deleting them wholesale because I don’t like how they read or they don’t express the idea I’m trying to convey as precisely as I would like.
- Finding the right word I need is difficult sometimes. Dictionaries and thesauri come in handy.
- Conveying space and the layouts of different settings can be troublesome without becoming boring. I’m still working on this.
- Characters and events are far more interesting when the small peculiarities and ideosyncracies are included. It requires attention to detail, but can make or break you as far as making the reader feel immersed.
- On the flipside of the above, don’t include so much detail as to overwhelm the reader.
All in all, turning the thoughts in my head into coherent sentences can be a difficult process at times and the only thing that makes it easier is practice and the continuance of forcing myself to sit and write.