How I write… How does one write? Either you pick up a pen or put your fingers to a keyboard and voilà! letters come together to form words; a series of words become a sentence; related sentences join together to make paragraphs, those paragraphs create pages. Pages create books. And books communicate some aspect of reality. The question of whose reality is where the fun happens.
How I Write
Words, Words, Words…
Only a dullard views reading and writing as merely a way to name objects and concepts. Various trends in teaching reading comprehension urge students to become more and more literal in their interpretations, and thus lose touch with the malleability of language. When wielded with skill, words can become a weapon against stupidity and mediocrity. If you can bend and shape words, you can shape your world and control it. That is when knowledge becomes power, and that is how I write. I am driven to share my slant on the world.
Always ask why about everything and take nothing at face value. That is how good literature operates. That is why Hamlet remains the most deeply affecting piece of literature I’ve ever read. The deeper a reader digs into the lines, the more significant their meaning becomes. A first Hamlet’s answer is flippant, but then his response shows that those who only write about surface details are not really honest at all.
From Hamlet Act II scene ii
POLONIUS: What do you read, my lord?
HAMLET: Words, words, words.
POLONIUS: What is the matter, my lord?
HAMLET: Between who?
POLONIUS: I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.
HAMLET: Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here
that old men have grey beards, that their faces are
wrinkled their eyes purging thick amber and
plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of
wit together with most weak hams: all which, sir,
though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet
I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for
yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab
you could go backward.
POLONIUS: [Aside.] Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t.
You can find the full text of Hamlet here.
That’s how I write. How do you write?
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy reading How to Establish Writing Accountability and Approaches to Outlining a Novel.
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2012. Updated February 2019.
Words really are magical things, aren’t they? It’s amazing (and sometimes terrifying) what people can do with them.
All words are magical incantations in the right context — or in the hands of the right writer.
Candy, and if only we could come close to the words of the Bard 😉
A great example of how you can bend and shape words. Have seen Hamlet a number of times but never reaaly appreciated that piece of dialogue before.
Ken, I’m jealous that you’ve seen Hamlet a number of times. I think I’ve seen most of the movie versions, but I’ve yet to see it performed on stage.
Shakespeare has been on my winter reading list the last two years for the joy of speaking it out loud as I go. The pleasure of words, you know…
RoseMary, indeed! In college, I remember reading each play in the comedies and romances class that I took, but then actually listening to them in the library on LPs!