By: Marilyn L. Davis
“Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.”
― Mark Twain
Communicating or Conversing through Comments?
I received an email recently that touched me. The reader said, “Reading your articles is like a great conversation. They are informative, laced with humor, insight and valuable information. I get myself a big cup of coffee to satisfy my illusion of a conversation with you, Marilyn.”
Later in the day, I got this comment from Delicia Powers, a poet at Wikinut.com. ” I admire so much Marilyn your style of writing…we are allowed to follow your stream of thoughts effortlessly. They become our own and we are comfortable, at home with feelings that flow so honestly through your mind…you put it so beautifully in one of your earlier pages…your thoughts are all connected threads unraveling…not the exact quote of your words but what remains in my mind…a marvelous story of self-discovery…thank you Marilyn, I am looking forward to reading more…”
I almost didn’t write anything that day wanting to savor the comments.
While I would like to take credit for Alice Bag’s quote, I cannot. However, it reflects how my writing is transforming.
“…I became obsessed with following the threads of my memories, one leading to another. I start pulling on a single, seemingly trivial strand, only to discover it is attached to a longer strand; that one in turn is attached to an even bigger one. Sometimes, I find I have tugged a whole, hidden tapestry of my past into view, one thread at a time.”
Delicia has an excellent point in that my connected threads are unraveling. Learning about writing as I am means that there’s a new style emerging. I am discovering a completely new types of writing – the personal essay and memoir.
The “I’m narrating the experience and including my thoughts and feelings, the nit-picky examination of what was, what came to be, and what I’m doing with it”. No, it’s not a genre yet, but certainly an apt description of the process.
About two years ago, when I started writing about addiction and recovery on another site, I thought that I must write long-drawn-out articles to stand out. Stand out is not exactly the right term, maybe just write more to be in the running is more accurate. After all, why should anyone read my article over all the others published that day?
In my more honest moments, I realize that writing about addiction is not like warm, fuzzy, ethereal poems or feel good narratives. These articles are about the harm done to others and ourselves. Addiction is the raw hunger that drives us to self-destruct, the complete and total disdain for not just the abstract “fellow man”, but our children, our parents, and us. In our use, we do not care about other people. Defining addiction beyond the simple fact of using drugs and alcohol, how it affects people, and how to recover are parts of my mission.
Lengthy is Not Necessarily Better
For a long time, I thought that the examples, underlying causes of addiction and directions to recover needed to be serious, educational, exacting and L-E-N-G-T-H-Y.
I was wrong. Some of my early efforts were tedious, pedantic and nitpicky. I preached and lectured, and I no longer want to spend my time writing lectures.
On my addiction blog, FromAddict2Advocate, I now try to leave out the unnecessary words and find the heart. I would rather give my readers the human stories that illustrate the subject of the lecture; getting to the important aspects in fewer, more straightforward words.
I can educate about addiction and recovery with the A-B-C’s; however, I believe that giving the examples of Ann, Brad, or Carl help readers relate and connect to the issues of addiction and recovery much better than Dragnet’s Joe Friday perspective, “Just the facts”. Writing non-fiction cannot just be the facts and statistics. Are facts important in non-fiction? Certainly they are; however, they must be woven into the article creating an atmosphere where the reader relates to facts and becomes emotionally engaged in them. I am understand that a few concise, well-chosen words can convey the entire concept. They form the heart of the writing, and that is what readers want.
Revealing in our Writing
In Revelatory writing, there is a point in which the writer starts out with the message of conflict, tensions, hardships and adversities and then discovers a solution. It is the written moments of personal insight, awareness, feelings, and thoughts that make non-fiction human. And in writing well, we attract readers who are interested enough in a post to grab a cup of coffee and read awhile.
Now, It Is Your Turn to Chat: Tell Me about Yourself
In truly authentic conversations, I would talk a bit and then listen to you. I would like to keep that going, writer to writer. If you will, indulge me. If you leave a comment, which I always appreciate, tell me something about yourself and your writing. I will grab my coffee and be prepared to learn. Thank you.
1. What have you discovered about yourself through your writing?
2. What motivates you to write?
3. What inspires you to write?
4. When was the last time you tried a different style of writing?
5. How much time do you study the craft of writing?
6. What writing goals have you established for you?
Oh, one more thing, I am curious if there are books, sites or articles that you recommend to help me become a better writer. I could always opt for a second cup of coffee and learn more.
Two Drops of Ink: The Home for Collaborative Writing