I came across a quote attributed to Daniel Boorstin who was Chief Librarian of the US Library of Congress. He used to start writing at 5am. He wrote a couple of books that did reasonably well, The Discoverers and The Creators, what they are about I have no idea.
When asked why he wrote and at such an ungodly hour he replied
“I write to discover what I think, after all, the bars aren’t open that early.”
That struck me for the bar quip but then I started to think about his opening statement – “I write to discover what I think” – and I believe that is very apt.
Even as a non-fiction writer who is producing commercial content designed to help sell and promote clients products and their websites, writing comes from inside and my thought patterns determine very precisely what I produce. Increasingly I find that writing is a journey into the unknown that becomes clearer each time I sit at the keyboard. I’m not trying to be high brow about this so I apologise for the cliche, but it’s true.
Some topics are very interesting and command the attention and your brain, while others simply pass you by. This is not my point. My point is that my journey into writing has been an unknown from the very beginningand there is so much more to explore. As I write this now, I’m consciously thinking about making each sentence capable of standing on its own feet, the need for punctuation and how to convey my idea without using “this” and “that” and still be clear.
Saying what you mean and meaning what you say in written form is a skill that takes time and effort. As a product of the “comprehensive” education system much more teaching effort was placed into developing my expression rather than developing grammatical skills. The greatest writing discovery I’ve made to date is that one simply cannot express ideas in written form properly unless you get to grips with grammar. This is a revelation that has been acquired after the fact. I’m a professional writer of two years standing with passable, but not good, parsing skills, yet I am making a living and have a clutch of regular clients. I have gained an appreciation of the English language and become somewhat ashamed of my weak grasp of it while being degree educated, A-levelled up and have more O-levels than fingers; something of a damning indictment of modern education methods.
Knowing when to use “there” and “their” should be second nature; however, I see it incorrectly used everyday. I’ve not yet come to terms with picking up on the “who’s” and “whose” and “who” and “whom” rules yet but I will in due course, probably I should make this a topic for one of my posts.
Right now the bar is open and I’m off for a pint, so Mr Boorstin, “Cheers!”