I am impatient.
there are writers who spend five or eight or a dozen years writing a novel, crafting each sentence, paragraph, and chapter with the dedication and precision of a Bernini. I would be bald and fat if I worked that way, having pulled every hair from my head and eaten everything I could get my hands on.
this past week I took Word and Excel training sessions, eating an entire (large) bag of jelly bellies while doing so. I pulled only a hair or two.
but to worry a paragraph to perfection takes more patience and love than I can seem to find.
I love words, I enjoy playing with sentence structure and rhythm. I close my eyes and feel for what’s underneath the words. I read what I’ve written, I’ll niggle with words, clauses, the swooping of lines. I’ll fix redundancies, repetitions, recurrences. (that was a joke.) I read for clarity and interest. I chop the unnecessary, unless I’m too attached to it to do so. I strike articles and “that” and make sure to refer to people as “who” and animals as “that,” unless an animal needs to become a “who” because of the story.
but I craft very few perfect paragraphs.
Orion magazine has an online column named the place where you live, and there, this week, I discovered a perfect paragraph. caught midway between envy and appreciation, I acknowledge that I could try harder. I could quell my impatience–somehow–and focus more deeply on each word I write and how it behaves around those surrounding it. but no matter how long I write, how many hairs I pull or jelly bellies I eat, no matter the years under my belt, the volumes to my credit, the number of tweets I’ve carefully honed, I will always, always, be awed by the perfect paragraphs of other writers.
this one, by jaren watson, can be accessed by clicking the link above, but I’m also including it below. enjoy, be awed, be envious, be encouraged.
Posted by Jaren Watson | September 17, 2014
My home lies in the shadows of granite giants to the east, limestone pilgrims to the west. The plain between was carved by the Yellowstone caldera a hundred thousand years ago, and now lies as flat as hammered brass. In the hills above my home, my ancestors shook the shoulders of Hin-mah-tu-yah-lat-kekt, the wisest and gentlest leader this land has ever known, and chased him from the belly of his lover, made his home their home. As now I sleep I hear his voice in the whistle of the elk, my neighbors. I feel his hands about my ankles as I wade the waters of the Teton River, my mother. My brothers are juniper and pine, and the wind through their needles is the whisper of our Chief, saying, “Rest, my son. Rest upon my bones, your bedstead.”