Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why I LOVE writing - Rationalization #1

This morning I found myself poring over issues of the Cariboo Sentinel from the late 19th Century. For a lot of people that may not seem a very inspired lead-in to a post about the love or writing. Who in his right mind wants to spend a day reading parchments about events that transpired more than a hundred years ago - before the invention of the the caffeinated human?

A writer! That's who. At least this peculiar manifestation of the species.

One of the things I love about writing is the weird dimensions it takes me into. Too often we're in a big rush to get words onto paper to prove we're actually WRITING. But as I mature - strange thing for a 58 year-old to be saying, but perpetual maturation is another facet of writing I should perhaps write about... as I mature, I find I want to get off the linear track and explore wider and wider circles of discursive meaning.

I just looked up discursive, by the way, and discovered it signifies what I intended in one sense, as in: dis·cur·sive adj - lengthy and including extra material that is not essential to what is being written or spoken about. There's another nuance to the word I don't mean, namely - using logic rather than intuition to reach a conclusion. Logic is like Werther's caramel candies to me, a bad habit I have trouble avoiding.

What Mr. Encarta refers to as 'not essential', however, is the very essence of writing. The not-essential stuff is what you stumble on when you are researching character, place and meaning. It may never actually make it into print, but it's fascinating just the same. And fun. For example, I came across a tidbit in the Cariboo Sentinel about a witness to the signing of a will, who was being questioned in court and was asked how he knew the 'testatrix' was of sound mind. His reply: "I base my opinion on the fact that she knew brandy from beef tea."

Not essential. But surely delightful, and somehow revealing about the sentiments of the era.

Those kinds of intriguing digressions, whether or not they actually make it into the story do help make the story - and shape the writer.

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