A few years ago, I was invited to a day-long event for a group of women writers. It was hosted by a brilliant local poet at her home. A friend and fellow writer parked right in front of me on the street. We started to walk together. She held a great bowl of salad, I had a container of hummus (more on that later this week, mother effers). The only thing our host told us about the house was that it was the fifth from the corner.
But which corner? Was it on our left or right?
We stopped, our heads tocking back and forth.
I pointed to the house on our right. "Basketball hoop," I said of the predictable fixture in the drive. Then I turned to the house on the left and looked at the ornament hanging on the porch and said, "Wind chimes." I looked at my friend. "I'm betting on the wind chimes."
"You and your eye for detail," she said.
The devil is in the details. I never take my eyes from them.
Chipped fingernail polish, black or pink? On nails that are long or short? Baseball hat, clean or dirty, backwards or forwards? Adidas with ankle socks or loafers on bare feet? It never ends.
Then there was this: I asked my father-in-law about when he asked my mother-in-law to marry him. He said, "Well, I didn't want to formally propose until I had my Carpenter's Union card."
Do I need to tell you anything else about him?
That's what it's like to be a writer. I never stop seeing the details, matching them up to their proper owners and seeing the beauty of their infinite combinations.
I love this craft.
I do my best to put it forth in these pages and other publications. Sometimes I'm more successful than others, but I never stop. The hunt for an honest kernel of the human condition never ceases to captivate me.
Hence, when the lovely Ms. Baroque bestowed a Roar for Powerful Words award upon me, I was left blushing and batting my eyelashes like a blossoming teen.
Thanks Ms. B. It's nice to get noticed.
I am supposed to list three tenets to good writing. I already covered the details, but here are two more:
Revision. No matter what you write, it will be better the second time you write it and even better the third time. I revise mercilessly. Further to something Ms. B. wrote in the post linked above, I always read a piece aloud to myself or someone else (often a Goat) in order to verify the rhythm.
Truth. This is the hardest part of writing and it often reveals itself in the rewrites. Whenever I have an emotional reaction to the material before me, that's when I know I have to dig, dig, dig to find out what drives my anger, sadness or joy. Then I have to articulate the whole movement in telling detail.
And one more:
Trust the reader. They are smart. Point them to the truth with the right details and they will draw their own proper conclusion. You don't have to rub their face in it. Respect the reader above all.
In lieu of handing out five awards, I'm going to invite everyone to write a little something of themselves in the comment section today. Give me three details that reveal something about you. They have to be good ones. Here are mine:
1. My coffee cup is hand-painted. It says "I (heart) You Mom" in thick purple letters.
2. I purchased a pair of red lace underwear three days ago.
3. I detest the new abbreviations such as "u r" instead of "you are."
So then, what have you to tell me bloggers?