Learning to Write I
Why do you want to do it? It might be the wish to connect with other people on a deep level. The need to speak of inner feelings. It could be the pressure of emotion, which you can’t ignore. What are your own reasons?
Remember the element of play in writing. Build it up and knock it down again. Build something else with the same feeling, the same mood. Use different words or the same words in different ways.
Writing is always about understanding. It addresses the need to make sense of your world. And because it is a celebration, writing, the act of writing, allows us to see our world in relief. We can look at it in close-up. It gives us awareness.
Where to start? We are in the process of feeling out a way of saying one thing in terms of another. We are searching for a metaphor.
Ezra Pound said, The natural object is always the adequate symbol. Write this down and stick it on the wall. It will keep you grounded and allow you to fly. The thing, the object, will always do the work of carrying feeling.
Seek out an objective correlative (Eliot), that is a working image, an outward sign of an inner state. These are examples:
There must have been a draft for the flame flickered and I thought it was out. But I shielded it with my hand and it burned up again to light me along the dark passage. Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea.
After my brother had been killed, my mother scarcely ever left this house and its grounds. I think she tried to forget that such a land as Germany existed. She began to study Hebrew and to concentrate her whole mind upon ancient Jewish history and literature. Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye to Berlin.
He groaned again and sat up, running fingers through his tousled dark hair, squeezing his temples between the heels of his palms. His lips were dry and brownly encrusted. He ran his tongue over them and made a distasteful face. Then he rose, coughing a little, took off his gloves and overcoat, dropped them on the sofa, and went into the bathroom. Dashiell Hammett, The Glass Key.