These days I hear my father's voice -- he died in June 2006 -- more than I usually do. He's saying, in his low, resonant voice, "Be determined."
I was a kid on the starting block at a swim meet when he first said this to me. Everyone else was shouting "GO!" and "Beat 'em!" But Dad would wait for a lull in the noise, just before the starter signaled for quiet, and say this one thing. He didn't have to shout. His resonant voice carried and cut through all ambient noise simply by the way he pitched and placed it.
So powerful was his basso that when he was in college the singing group he was in needed only him on bass. He was proud of this seven-man octet.
I miss my father. He and I disagreed on much about life - politics especially - but neither of us was willing to let that diminish our love for one another. And so today, when I looked at the count on my Inkshares page (81) and contemplated how many more pre-orders of my book I must get (919) and felt a niggling of discouragement, I heard him.
(Nowhere Else I Want to Be on Inkshares)
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I am an unabashed PBS nerd.
That may seem a strange way to begin a post on a blog about being a writer. But to the extent that we write what we know and live and love, it's entirely germane.
One of my favorite PBS shows is Globe Trekker, in which young people with ridiculous amounts of energy and stamina go to different countries to be videoed exploring and traveling. Recently I have seen the Antarctic, St. Helena, Tibet, and Japan.
Geishas were featured on the Japan episode and I was fascinated by their walk. They glide, so smoothly it looks as though they're floating on a friction-free rail. And that seemed to me to be a good metaphor for writing.
The geisha walk combines a strange sandal and a peculiar gait:
The sandals' height and that sloping shape allow for a gentle rolling forward onto the toe, which I think must produce a smoother action on the lift of the foot. And the gait is achieved by an odd placement of the forward foot that you can see if you look closely at the photo: she places the leading foot across and a bit past the path of the back foot in a sort of weaving pattern.
It surely takes a lot of practice just to get accustomed to those shoes. And to make the walk smooth enough while coordinating the roll of the toes with that cross-wise placement of the foot must require the development of certain calf and core muscles one normally doesn't need when walking. The result looks effortless, yet you just know a lot of practice went into it.
As a writer, I look for and try out recommended tools, read the most helpful books, and learn from the best writers. I spend hours exercising writing muscles into what I hope is prime shape. But I don't want my writing to jerk and strain with all this effort.
The writing I like best and try to emulate has an effortless feel, as though each word follows the one before in inevitable, not contrived, fashion. The language doesn't jostle for place or squeal for attention. Good writing is frictionless.
I want my writing to glide. Like a geisha walks.
This blog chronicles my work and thoughts as a writer. - Carol D. Marsh
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