Sunday, 24 January 2010

Waffles

When I first started writing creatively, I’d write sentences like this one:

Where outwardly she bestrode her life’s landscape with steadfast ambition, privately she would seek his embrace and his assurances, vulnerable with her decisions, aching for constant validation- when she graduated with a first it was after many fraught scenes with him over her choice of subject matter….

And so on. A sentence would be one whole paragraph. If let loose, my sentence would have been the whole chapter. If I had not opened my writing to peer critiques and reviews and attended writing classes, I’d still be writing like the above.

I called this waffling. I wasn’t writer-ly material yet (and still am not!) but I sure knew how to waffle.

I think that’s why I enjoy flash fiction and short story writing. They’re giving me the discipline to not waffle.

Now if I could only apply this discipline to improving my conversational skills.

This morning my lovely neighbour and fellow feline-phile asked one question, “How’s the Cat?”

Having been so immersed with the Cat’s condition I immediately launched into detailing her medical and health situations in intricate detail.

I don’t know how long my soliloquy went but even I realised I was waffling when my neighbour not only started to back away ever so slowly from me, her eye contact wavered. Her body turned sideways. She placed her hands in her coat pockets and hunched her shoulders.

Her whole demeanour screamed silently, “I’m cold, it’s raining, I was just on my way to the shops and thought I’d just ask but now I need to go”.

Which brings me to my many writer-ly maxims (personal to me) that enable me to conquer my many writer-ly sins.

Keep things simple. Write with clarity. Use words carefully. Less is more. Edit (which I forgot to do yesterday). Re-draft as many times as possible.

So when my neighbour asked, “How’s the Cat?” an appropriate response from me should probably just have been, “She’s still a bit poorly but hanging on, thanks for asking.”

:-)

12 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I was chuckling away here.

It's odd but what I find hardest is to flesh things out enough. Short I can do. Long is much harder.

By the way, I love your voice.

Kea said...

ROTFL!

Actually, this philosophy can be applied to all facets of our lives, I think:

"Keep things simple...Use words carefully. Less is more."

I need to keep this in mind more often!

Lexi said...

The only occasion I tend to waffle is on answer machines...I think it's because they don't respond, which is a little unnerving.

KarenG said...

I do this all the time in both my writing and my talking. The thing about writing is that I can edit BEFORE I put it out there for public consumption. Talking however, I just blather on saying the same things a million different ways. Basically editing myself while talking, and all the versions are out there, making people's eyes glaze over. I much prefer writing to talking.

theresamilstein said...

Don't worry - you have nothing on my mother when it comes to verbal waffling. Our "conversations" are really monologues on her part.

I called my writing "flowery", and I've gotten better about keeping it simple.

It's good that you're aware of it in writing and in life.

Old Kitty said...

Hi fairyhedgehog

aw, thank you! glad you like my voice!

and I'm with you with the short. and sweet.

:-)

Take care

x

Old Kitty said...

Hi Kim

they're my mantras! they honest to goodness stop me writing BAD sentences!

Take care

x

Old Kitty said...

Hi Lexi

LOL! and worse, leaving messages after the answering machine voice finishes...

:-)

Take care
x

Old Kitty said...

Hi KarenG

I'm so with you on this. If I could spend my time just writing and emailing and not having to speak, I'll be one happy person.

I really and truly am with you with this!

Take care

x

Old Kitty said...

Hi theresamilstein

Your mum sounds like my mum. She speaks, we listen and that for her is a good conversation!

Btw, your blog writing is incredible. It's so tightly edited and very focused and not an unnecessary word anywhere.

I'm so envious!

Take care
x

Ann said...

I really enjoyed this. I too have experienced people backing away, when I launched into an epistle. Yes less is more, wish there was an edit button!!!

Old Kitty said...

Hi Ann

I second that!

:-)

Take care
x