As I’m coming to the end of my Master’s degree in Creative Writing, I’ve been reflecting on the subject and how my ability to entwine cohesive clauses in a plot thick with action, excitement, and an intricately woven storyline has grown.
In the past I had often been told that the more I wrote, the better I would become. Like working a muscle to its optimal performance. Even before beginning this degree, I had noticed a change between the first novel I published and the latest at the time. It still makes me cringe when I consider my standards then to what I now know in comparison. But, all of this is great, because it means I’ve progressed, continued to learn when I could’ve been lazy and stuck to what I knew.
I firmly believe that writing is a craft with endless development. Whether that’s in grammar and punctuation, language, purposeful use of lexis, tools in structure, story, plot, character, dialogue, forms. . . The list goes on, and like everything else it evolves. If you want to be better, you cannot stay still.
Do you remember in English class when you were made to inspect literature in fine detail, the likes of William Shakespeare for example? You’d be deconstructing the prose or poetry all the way down to single words. And I’m sure you often questioned whether the author had been that precise on word choice, sub-text etc. on purpose, if it happened haphazardly, or if it were coincidental and academia made it up entirely, wanting to find double-meanings for the sake of being intelligent. I know I often suspected if it were true, and that was mostly based on my own writing process.
When I’m in the throes of getting the first draft of my latest novel done, I can be so in tune with my characters and story that I don’t deliberately choose my vocabulary. For example, using the same verbs that relate to the location I’m in.
(In a coffee shop) ‘The man’s misery wafts around him.’
The verb ‘wafts’ directly links to the scent of a coffee shop, its aroma permeates the air. Admittedly, it hadn’t been my intention to write with such insight. I just did it. But now, after completing the first full draft of my dissertation, I understand how important it can be to carefully select phrases, structure, lexis etc. to strengthen my writing. Even if that means slight details where sentences affect pacing.
Now, this makes me wonder even more if Shakey etc. really did understand the power and impact their writings made. Then again, he is the brain behind much of our vocabulary and phrases e.g. ‘seen better days’, ‘sorry sight’, ‘full circle’. If only I could converse with him myself; I’d dissect every inch of his brilliance.
Do you think writing is a craft? Or is it an easy vocation, the job anyone can do?