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.”