Painting with Words

by Intermittent Rain ~ January 30th, 2016. Filed under: Thoughts about Writing.


It’s been pointed out to me (and I’ve been subconsciously aware) that my writing over the past year or two has become more convoluted and laced with more (sometimes) challenging grammatical errors.

A few factors:

  • more complicated situations and characters
  • desire to push my prose
  • poetic licence

But I’m beginning to think the biggest factor is that I’m writing and editing like an improvising painter. I decide that a situation or description needs a dash of red, but not just basic red; rosewood red. That specific color has slight characteristics or elements that regular red does not have. With that addition I think that section as a whole represents what I want to say but I don’t notice that the shade conflicts with other parts of that section, all of which have elements of green.

I think I want rosewood red (or the gerund version of a verb, or an unexpected metaphor, or a strange wording) and it isn’t until someone points out the awkwardness or the mismatch and perhaps suggests a smoother revision that I see what they’re seeing. Only then do I realize that I have not fully thought out why I need rosewood red, not seen the conflict, and not made a conscious decision either to keep it and rework other things so the unintentional awkwardness is removed, place it so that it’s clear why that conflict or oddness is considered and necessary, or revise it with a version that works better with the colors (words, phrases, sentences) around it. Instead, I see the composite of what I’ve placed there and what it includes.

It’s like being a beginning writer and making simple grammar or sentence construction or POV or logic errors and reading right past when I self-edit, only now I’m doing so at a higher level (I hope) where I’m striving for subtle or complex or intentionally nebulous communication which is more difficult to work perfectly. I’m using a larger palette with more shades and in more combinations and trying to use them in such a way that paints a better picture, one that more completely includes all of what I’d like to say.

Like the writing here. Metaphors and multiple options or versions all strung together in long sentences; these are examples of some types of prose situations I’m getting myself tied up in. But there others. And I think they’re all arising from the same basic writing issue; trying to get a more complete communication of all the elements and shades that I want to get across.

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