Friday, May 11, 2007

Splash du Jour: Friday

Until I perfect a sentence, I’m not allowed to go on to the next sentence. And I don’t allow myself to go back to the beginning to accommodate where I am now. Therefore I’m in a trap. I have to work something out in the current sentence so there’s no need to go back and fix the antecedent action. Then, when you get to the next sentence, it’s a kind of enjambment, if that’s the word.
It must respond to the previous sentence – otherwise, you get no cadence. To write sentence five, you have to read over sentences one, two, three, and four, to make sure your rhythm is constant. And if you go away for a week and come back, you have to read over and over to catch that tone.
It’s so physical.
There are these three fingers that hold the pen, and there is the ear. Of course, it’s all ear.

-- Cynthia Ozick –

Have a great Friday!

5 comments:

Beth said...

If I tried to perfect every sentence before going on to the next one, I would never finish anything.
But I certainly agree with the necessity of capturing a rhythm.

cipriano said...

Yeah. There are so many ways to write. I am not sure if anyone can really accurately suggest what will work best for someone else.
Most people [writers] advocate that sort of vomitous way of writing, like letting it pour forth unhindered, then revising, re-writing, all of that jazz.
My own style is much more of a painstaking procedure. I would never wish my writing-angst upon another human! It is more along the lines of what Cynthia Ozick is saying here. Wanting it to be perfect when it first comes out. Dealing with the problems of a sentence [or paragraph] before moving on to the next one. It often DOES feel like a "trap".
And then... even then, I go back and revise revise revise!

Would we tell a painter he has to use this or that gauge of brush? Or this or that size of canvas?
Would we tap Rodin on the back and say... "No, no, you buffoon. Use THIS chisel!"
But yet we are very apt to tell writers how to write, and I think such advice is most often not only useless, but detrimental.
Yet... I love to read about other writers, and how they approach their craft. And I like to adopt their styles for about three minutes, then quickly gravitate back to my own aggravating, naueseous, painstaking, anal-retentive, arduous, yet wonderfully satisfying style.
No matter what one can say about writing as a craft, it is perhaps the most idiosyncratic of all the arts.

Beth said...

Yes, your style of writing does seem very painful - but it works for you. Very well.

Since I always revise, edit, revise, edit - I finally decided to just write - do the "fixin'" later. 'Cause I know I'll be going back.

Isabella said...

I DO adhere to her method, but I can't say it's really working for me. I'm still trying to perfect that first sentence, in a trap.

Bybee said...

I think Richard Ford said once that this is how he writes.