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The Writer's Truest Thing

I am not a particularly creative person. I can do the technical things to build a story, write a poem, take a photograph. But the wild magical imagination that births really beautiful and unique books and visual imagery is not inherent to me. I spend a lot of time studying other people's creativity to think about how I might do something similar myself, without actually copying them (because then after all it wouldn't be creativity).




What I do have is an intuition for sentence structure. My thoughts move with a particular cadence, and when I write them down I am able to stay true to that cadence, so that what results is something sincerely my own. Never borrowed, seldom edited, always authentic to its beginnings as a whisper, a stirring of old silence, deep inside me. My words aren't precious to me - words belong to us all; and besides, I like to keep them simple. But my style is valuable to me, because it is me.

I've had people use my photographs without crediting them. That's annoying, but a common peril for those who publish images without watermarks. I don't feel my photography warrants watermarking. I've also had people use my words without crediting them. That's more annoying. And my ideas, that's worse. I really do suffer when people take my ideas for their own, probably because of my struggle to be creative and come up with fresh thoughts. But even then, that's a gift from the universe, helping to guide me into my true heart where it's not the ideas themselves that matter, only their song.




Different though is when people copy my phrasing, my sentence structure, my cadence - not just echo it but directly take a whole paragraph of it and put their own words instead for the same purpose. That's strange, eerie, and upsetting. Maybe it shows I am inspiring, which of course every writer wants to be, and I should be delighted. But that style, it's the truest thing I have as a writer. It's the truest thing any writer has about themselves. No one could call lifting it plagarism, because the words are different. And yet, writing is not just words, is it?

I took a wild path into the craft of writing. Because of this, I'm not as clever as many other writers, I'm a bit rough-hewn and wind-shaken. I never learned the rules. All I did was read and think and wish. Often I dream of being more skilled at the craft, and always I'm trying to improve. But it matters to me that at least, for better or worse, no one else writes like me.

I don't mean that to sound boastful. Imagine you were a dress designer. You would want to create a unique brand, wouldn't you? And if you were a singer, you'd want the tone of your voice to be different from others, or else you might as well join the chorus. Surely any creative artist strives to be recognisable in the crowd.

And so I can tell you this : with the exception of subconscious echoing, which we all do sometimes, what I write is honestly from me. Oh, the plot may be cliched, the ideas may have been done before, and especially in the case of my latest project you may think it a homage to other writers simply because they are the people from whom I learned my sense of humour. You may even thinking I write terrible. Fair enough. But my voice is mine. I will never relinquish it in silence.



Comments

  1. I love the way you write, Sarah. Your style *is* unique and uniquely you. To me, it is freshly lyrical, with an old-fashioned sensibility that somehow manages to feel timeless and relevant. Your stories, no matter when and where they are set, seem immediate; it is as if your words transport me to a place I know in my soul, but can't get to any other way except through your storytelling. That is the only way I can explain it. I look forward to everything you write.♥

    As a funny aside, several years back, when I was writing fiction instead of letters and grocery lists, I did one of those entertaining "quizzes" that is supposed to tell you which famous writer your work most resembles. I copied and pasted a paragraph into their "analyzer", and it said I write like James Joyce! I thought it was funny because I have never read James Joyce, nor do I consider my writing to be particularly masculine. I was so much hoping for a Bronte or Jane Austen. Heck, I would have been happy with Agatha Christie or even Louisa May Alcott. :)

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