A Writer at Work

Edit: What began as a freeform entry, like any other I write, turned into a realization of a shortcoming in my writing ability, this illumination, no doubt, due to the fact that I have applied myself to read countless books this year, sometimes reading more than a book a day (As I did today, reading Robinson Crusoe this afternoon and returning to Les Miserables tonight). Put simply, I am not up to snuff with my imaginary peers, and I can finally see it. That being said, I intend to go to work on my writing and make a bounding leap in quality. There’s a reason I have not completed any of the two novels or the three novellas I have begun; I have known deep down for a time that my skill as a writer does not yet equal my talent nor my passion, and therefore does not do it justice. There being no other way to improve on writing than to write, I have used this blog as a cathartic medium for that endeavor. Tonight, I am finding it is serving it’s purpose well. I hope to emerge from this quest for betterment in visible possession of what I now lack. The rest, which made my inadequacy clear, follows.


The heart is light,
The time right;
I’m finally doing it

There’s a line in Robinson Crusoe that says something about a man’s good fortune sometimes being the seed of his demise, and so it was the case for me.

But I could have torn down anything, no matter how beautiful. I was too young then – too young to be a man, too reckless; I was destructive, and I destroyed, and consequently lost all.

However, youth is no excuse.

Men younger than I: boys – gamines, as Victor Hugo called them, little Gavroches have shown more heart than I. It wasn’t years I lacked, but resolve. And beyond that, I was horribly entitled – a funny thing for a boy who grew up something of a gamine himself. Humble and tough upbringing aside, I had a big chip on my shoulder; and sometimes, a chip on the shoulder of one born in deficit is worse than a chip on the shoulder of the spoiled child. The spoiled child, while more arrogant, doesn’t posess the capacity for self-pity the poverty born child does. Arrogance is far less of a threat because it is far easier to see – being on the surface – whereas self-pity is far more than skin-deep: it’s an inadequacy of the Soul, where arrogance is an inadequacy of the world. The spoiled kind of entitlement results in an ego that compensates for this, making no apologies, for he feels himself superior. Whereas the entitlement that sometimes results from impoverishment creates an ego that

Pause. This is garbage. Not the form, but the substance. This is the second night in a row I have been unable to succinctly express something I felt deeply. As last night, tonight’s sentences are entangled and jumbled, tripping over themselves, the ideas knotting up, the substance lost.

It’s clear to me I am lacking something in my toolkit. Something missing from my employment of words is causing my ideas to explode on launch.

What this missing component in my writing technique is, I know not. But I can feel it; intuitively, I know there is a technique, an approach I might apply, that will render my sentences as clean as a bone, to borrow the words of James Baldwin. I want the ideas as pure as Shakespeare’s and as eloquent as Hugo’s. But, while I want them bone clean I do not want them bone dry, lacking in marrow, as the sentences of Hemingway or Conrad feel to me: palatable and fine in syntax but wanting in richness. What I want are sentences containing ideas as gorgeous to the reader as the finest equations are to the mathematician. Great ideas, genius ideas, these are devastatingly simple in their beauty. While I am a failure at math, having failed at algebra twice, I do know something of its beauty, being that I can parse clean code (front end Web).

Also being that I am not a savant as a programmer, I know that writing clean code requires I thoughtfully compose each line, neat and indented, using Notepad++, in order that I might see every bit, knowing it’s role and lack of superfluousness. There is an approach to coding known as DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself), which, in its focus on minimal output, embodies this.

I feel clumsy now just looking at the above paragraph. As if I have caught myself in the irony of my own overdoing it.

Anyhow, it’s clearly time I take to the drawing board. I’ll collect myself from the sand I sit upon and mosey home to supp and figure out how I might better parse my thoughts. There’s work to be done, no doubt.

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