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Friday, December 11, 2009


As a writer, what battles are you fighting?

"The picture that looks as if it were done without an effort may have been a perfect battlefield in its making." Robert Henri from The Art Spirit

This quotation comes at an excellent time for me. I've just witnessed a plasterer put the final touches on a couple large holes in our home's 1916 walls. Almost 10 years of living in this home, we've been working on many remodeling projects and the plastering helps to move us to complete one of the last big ones.

Except we asked the plasterer to finish his work rough. It was difficult, he told me, because he was accustomed to make everything "smooth as glass." But our walls are the old, rough plaster. Make them smooth and they will look out of place to the rest of our home. We were asking the plasterer to do something he was unaccustomed to doing, but a technique he knew how to do because of his experience. Smooth or rough, the end result hides the cracks and the "battlefield" beneath it.

Do you ever read someone's work and wonder about how many drafts it took to get to the rough or smooth finish the author was after? Do you ever wonder what "battles" needed to be fought in order to achieve the effortless read you enjoyed? Then look to your own work. What are you fighting when you fight the "battles"? Are you able to achieve the desired, perhaps, effortless results--rough or smooth? Or is the battle still being fought among the words as you try to finish your work?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and creativity coach. Besides contributing to AOL's ParentDish, she blogs at The Write Elizabeth, delving into creativity in everyday places. After writing this blog, Elizabeth plans to stare at the walls to watch the paint and plaster dry. Literally.

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Blogger Jayne Martin said...

It's always seemed to me that the composing of a piece of writing is much like the composing of music. Although musically I am tone-deaf,I can actually hear the rhythm and tones of the words as I write. Some are sharp, others dull, a few shrill, or soft. Pacing can be upbeat, mellow, melancholy... I can usually just feel when I've got it right. I always sit with it for a day or so, checking and re-checking, changing a word here, a punctuation there until I know it's as good as I can make it. Then off into the world it goes.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

That's a really good question. I'm going to have to ponder that next time I'm reading a book or short story.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Terena said...

interesting you should ask, because this is exactly what I've thinking about (and wrote about in my own blog). I lost touch with my imaginary reader, so I lost touch with the heart of the book I'm editing. Who is this written for? Forgetting the vision of who the story was written for has made the final revision and design process so much more difficult. I didn't have a "guide." Now that I recall that original image of the reader of the anthology, my task has become much easier.

8:24 AM  

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