I’ve noticed, due to my highly developed observation skills, and a class in aerobics, that some writers get across what they need to say in less words than me. They are the minimalist. I’m a maximalist.
I wonder why I am so loquacious and others have brevity? Which is not to say that I think I’m less succinct because of it. I just string along more words together because, literally, I like to do it.
“Brevity is the soul of wit,” though. And I can be almost so pithy, you can’t see me.
I think too much, that’s my avuncular brute. It’s like this indigenous kangaroo with me. Everything goes into my marsupial pouch of the mind before I jump. I don’t know how I got it. But I know I have that judging mind, the watcher always watching. Can it be cultural, I wonder?
I think my British upbringing may have something to do with it. There was always the onus to succeed. When I was growing up a position at university was a battle. And a way to get there was to perform well in your academics, which equates as mind. There wasn’t an outlet, like sports, if you couldn’t cut it. Of course, there probably was, but it was never stressed. You had two choices, or at least I was led to believe you did or I just couldn’t see farther than my cage, and the choices were university or a job in civil service.
But I started to think, wait, what about all these musicians I love? (I had not found books yet.) There is another choice. And so the beast was awakened. The creative mind, as opposed to the thinking, empirical, rational mind of study, stirred. But the creative mind already had the leeches of the other mind attached, and I still haven’t freed myself.
I really like this quote by the poet David Jones: “You simply make substantial things happen to substantial people. The difficulty is to invest the story with some measure of art and originality.”
And narrative is about substantial things, even if it’s a just about a young boy growing up in Wales. And like Jones says, what makes it more true is the art and originality. Without that, you simply have a person in a story, not a character. And books need characters, not people.
I read something recently that David Foster Wallace said about why he wrote. He said he wanted to write about what it feels like to live, not about writing as a relief from what it feels like to live. I totally agree.