Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hold It Right There

Earlier today a friend asked me a question about writing and restraint, which was inspired by a post by Chris Jones on his blog

I’ve always thought it important to note that “In the beginning was the word…” not “In the beginning was the words…” Now I know that's not the biblical interpretation but it has always seemed to me that, as far a writing goes, that truth and wisdom are best delivered in brevity, and that sometimes, the more words we use, the farther away we move from wisdom. Thumbnail version: Know when to stop.

That’s one of the reasons I think that writers of any stripe should read poetry – it not only provides tangible lessons like economy, sound and rhythm, but it also teaches that the negative space in writing – what’s not there, and the heartbeat of recognition that takes place over the empty space at the end of a line or a phrase - is as important as what is on the page. The way we connect with a piece of writing is how our brain fills in the blanks.

It’s like backing away from a painting rather than standing too close.