On Writing

Good writing requires time to taste. It begs for fine china and grandmother’s silver and most importantly, time - time to read and taste the flavor and to feel the texture of each word.  Most written works these days can be read while waiting for the light to change or for the receptionist to call your name.  Most works are flavorless, like a meal at a restaurant more known for it’s ocean view or its grand ballroom with crystal chandeliers.  Have you ever noticed how so many wedding receptions offer guests lackluster food? I believe it is to keep the attention on the bride and groom. Our attention, or at least my attention, just might turn away from the bride if someone placed before me a perfectly prepared porcini ragout over homemade pappardelle topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

Most writing simply gets the job done. It communicates. No more, although sometimes less.  But some writers are able to advance beyond communication, building sentences like great chefs build plates of food.  There is depth and color and texture that delights. If a reader knows the writer is going to offer them a feast of worded delight, it is not uncommon to set aside time, quiet time, to taste each morsel and to enjoy it without haste.  These works are penned with attention to each word, each syllable and its placement, and they are not to be read on line at the grocery store.  That would be as wasteful and preposterous as gulping buttery escargot or shoveling a chocolate souffle’ into one’s mouth at a stop light.  You would miss the textural differences of the souffle's outer shell as it mixes with the molten center or how the bittersweet chocolate and the raspberry coulis dance on your tastebuds.  Great food should not be inhaled just as great writing should never be gulped.

When I find a writer who is able to hook me with their carefully spun web of words and they reel me in with each additional sentence, I give that writer the time their work deserves.  I linger to taste punctuation. I give attention to the rhythm and the choice of each word.  At the close of a paragraph I might feel the weight of the last, monosyllabic word and know how it carries the burden of emotion not uttered aloud.  It makes my heart skip a beat when I find these authors, however famous or obscure, for it is not their fame that keeps me reading, but it is the passion they exude in their craft. The ease with which they string words together, the seemingly effortless weaving, is what brings me hope that one day I too could unknowingly bring a reader to create quiet time in their day to taste a plate of my words.