I’ve received an award A Roar for Powerful Words, initiated by The Shameless Lions Writing Circle in recognition of powerful writing.
The kind nominator was Charles Lambert (I have no idea why my linky dink won’t work here and I’ve given up trying to make it pretty – we’re looking for powerful, right? Ugly is okay, as long as it’s strong) which does give me another problem, beyond my coding failure, which is that Charles is one of the people I would have nominated myself, for such an award.
As well as coming up with five people I think should be honoured, I have to suggest three things that I think help make, or shape, powerful writing. That’s not too difficult:
Honesty is essential. To communicate we have to tell our truth, by whatever means, and that means can be the ‘muscular prose’ of a Hemingway, or the allusive introspection of Proust. Truth emerges, without regard to style or voice, and the honest desire to tell an honest story nearly always wins through, even if the writing is ragged.
Love matters. You have to love writing like a drug or a newborn, to write with real power. Sometimes, it’s true, you may hate writing like a bastard, but that’s just the obverse side of the love coin. Wanting to be a writer is not enough, you have to love the words for their own sake.
Knowing your place is essential. Those who just want to ‘tell’ without listening run dry pretty fast, and produce weak stuff anyway. You have to want to read, as well as write, and you have to experience the written word (whether yours or anothers) with a critically loving spirit – the history of fiction, poetry or journalism that allows us to stand where we do isn’t just essential background reading, it’s the bedrock of our experience. If we don’t know what we’re standing on, we can’t reach higher.
Bunny’s first novel ‘Sticklebacks and Snowglobes’ is out now – she’s one of my best friends, and a brilliant writer and we met in a writing workshop. She’s also my toughest critic and my touchstone for truth and her blog deals with the daily nitty gritty of writing life.
I don’t always understand Cliff’s blog, and that could be because it’s ‘postgraduate’ level, while mine is only ‘elementary school’ (you can find out what that means at Perpetual Folly) but I learn from it whether I understand or not. Incisive reviews, commentary and frequent revelatory insights into how one writer writes.
Long ago, before I ever thought of writing fiction, I read Sandra’s books and loved them. One day I found her blog and dared to post a comment. Since then she’s been a personal support, and an inspiration – her truth is told in her blog with unflinching honesty – it’s not just an exploration not just of how and why one writer writes (or doesn’t) but Sandra shares her past in the writing business and tells of her experiences in ways that we can all learn from. I can’t praise her too highly, as a writer or as a generous soul.
What I said about the love of words is proved here. For the sheer joy of it, for the glory of Middle English and because Chaucer is a god, this blog always makes me smile, shake my head in wonder and get back to work with a renewed delight in placing word in front of word. Can I recommend one particular post to you? Serpentes on a Shippe is the most sublime piece of homage you will ever read. Chaucer would have loved it!
A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing
J A Konrath is a genre writer, and his blog tells you what you need to know if you want to make a living out of writing fiction. Read it – if it puts you off the business forever, then good. If it doesn’t then join the rest of us who are getting out there and doing it.
Clifford Garstang20th November 2007
Charles Lambert20th November 2007
Fabulous! All of it!
Nik's Blog21st November 2007
Congrats! And, as usual, sensible words.
Jim Murdoch21st November 2007
I found your third choice, “Knowing your place” an interesting one. It is really all to do with understanding the bigger picture, that writers are a part of the real world and writing is a way of processing what is going on in that world.
I’ve used the example of a weight trainer before. It’s not just a matter of pumping iron and suddenly the muscles all swell up the way you want them. No, you have to eat well, digest your food, exercise moderately, then rest and repeat. Writing is the same. You need stuff to write about. You need to read, absorb what you’ve read, then exercise your own writing muscles and know when to quit.
Kay Sexton21st November 2007
Jim, that’s an excellent analogy – we do need stuff to think about, and we do need to know when to rest, so that our writing muscles can become stronger in the interim.
B.A. Goodjohn26th November 2007
Thanks, Kay. I’ve passed the baton so graciously given.
Shameless27th November 2007
Oh, very pleased to see you receive this! 🙂 Very well deserved. Your site is a diamond shop for writers! Roarrrrrrrrr!
Kay Sexton27th November 2007
Thank you Shameless, that’s very sweet of you. I’m blushing, you know!