To Cross That Line

To Cross That Line

When I read the works of some writers: their stories, their articles, their poems, even their comments on other writer’s works, I feel that there is a line that they have crossed. A line I wonder if I too have to cross, before I can be counted among the proficient writers.

Their works are usually sprinkled with imagery that is gracefully expressive and romantically beautiful. It is imagery that has never come to my young, evolving mind. Imagery I wonder if I would ever be able to think of.

The words and phrases they use are so original and polished. Not a cliché to be found anywhere. No weak phrases or dull sentences. Even the slightest nuances are captivated in an entrancing picture. The similes and the metaphors, the allusions, the characterization…pure sophisticated creativity all through.

The general feeling of the writing is deep and one that leaves me dazed, after reading it in a trance-like stupor.  I get chills all the way down my back. And in my mind, there is an ovation so loud and reverential that I almost have tears in my eyes. I feel the strength of the writer’s voice deep in the core of my being.

I look at the fine skilled writing, flowing so elegantly with that je ne sais quoi that makes it exceptional. It is clear no novice could write this way.

And then I look at my amateurish writing: blithe, happy, easy to read and by no means complex. My lines are somewhat predictable and the general tone of the writing leaves the reader in a jovial mood….maybe with a smile after reading it. My imagery is not so profound or thorough. It still stimulates the mental pictures in the reader’s mind but I do not give it a poetic elegance. I probably do not know how to.

The theme of my writing is almost always something very relatable hence my writing is not graced with that mysterious allure. It’s easy-reading. No untouchable topics are broached. Am I a coward or is it just my style?

I sometimes find myself losing the battle against clichéd phrases as I tell myself there’s nothing else that captures it better. Thesauri and dictionaries can hardly help me there.

I read all the writing tips and writing help books and they tell me to develop my characters before involving them in a story. Maybe I’m just lazy but I like my characters to find their own voice, have the life they can live best. They are born that moment my fingers touch the keyboard. Not a moment before. I try sometimes, oh yes I do. After all, what’s the point of seeking advice I won’t put to use. But the process seems unnatural to me. So I find myself with characters that can’t decide if they have a best friend or not. Characters that sometimes don’t know how old they are supposed to act. It’s a shame, right?

I consider the writing of the aforementioned writers: complex, thought-provoking, awe-inspiring.

And mine: cheery, lively, light writing.

I compare the two.

And I wonder if I have to cross that line. I wonder if I ever will.

 



55 thoughts on “To Cross That Line” by queennobo (@queennobo)

  1. i can relate to what you are implying QueenNobo. The beauty of writing and critiquing is not in the art, its in the mind. The battle for beautiful expressions and romanticised conceptualizations aren’t so much in the fluid poise injected into a piece, but in the nimble-mind foisted with the carriage of such a task. Erudition added to talent makes for this distinction, which i believe is the fine line you so much elucidated in this article.

    Craft is honed over the years. Maturity prevails upon the youthful mind as fancy mixes with realism and idealism in a whole composite of brilliance that startles even the writer himself. i see this in every good story. The key is a fine balance, without giving up one for another. In a while, if ou keep writing, you will get to this enviable position QueenNobo.

    1. Thank you, @fervency….and when i get there, you’ll be able to say, without any doubt, ”I told you so!” ;-)

  2. First off, you write just fine, thank you!

    Second, after going ‘external’ – from one writing advice article to another well written book – you have to come back to yourself to find yourself. Write from the inside.

    On ‘clueless’ characters, methinks you gotta give yourself some time to create the characters FIRST before starting. Alternatively, you could do it the way you’ve been doing it but keep your eyes open for that epiphany moment the mould you want to cast the character in hits you.
    In the end, there JUST has to be some ‘moulding’ else your characters have problems.

    Last off, you write just beautifully, thank you! :-)

    1. @kayceenj, Thank you so much for your advice. You say I write beautifully. Is that opinion based on this post or have you read my other posts, too?

  3. Based on THIS post. You are CLEAR. You are DIRECT. You are SIMPLE. And your writing has an appreciable ELEGANCE.

    Just based on this post though. Will sure check out others. :-)

    1. okay, thank you for also being clear and direct with me. :-)

  4. I really get what you are saying and I feel the same towards my writing.All the best in your search for perfection.

    1. @khadijahmuhammad, It’s good to know that you feel what i’m talking about. Thank you for your kind wishes and same to you too…

  5. I really get what you are saying and I feel the same towards my writing.All the best in your search for perfection.

  6. Whatever it is you wish your writing to become, you can become it.
    I won’t give you tips or keys. I’ll just give you one advice that never fails any writer – read the works of other writers and with time you’ll find your own edge; your subconscious will pick things and you’ll find yourself re-arranging them and re-creating your own style.

    1. @Afronuts, thank you for that very important and sensible piece of advice…i take it you fall into the class of writers i mentioned, eh? ;-)

      1. @queennobo

        lol…I’ll let you be the judge of that!

  7. you don’t have to cross any lines to be great…you juts have to keep doing what you are doing. you already have an audience. cultivate them and keep them wanting more :)

    i think about being in a competition a few months back and being the only one with cheery stories. i still went ahead and won. there is an audience for everyone. know yours!

    1. @kiah, your words of encouragement are so good to see…Thank you!

  8. I get what you mean, I think I’m close to where you are too, and I know(or strongly think) what with dedication and patience, my words can someday flow like milk and honey :D

    1. they will. @lelouch…just follow the advice of the ones that are already there…and the encouragement of fellow writers like us, right?

  9. i think you crossed the line when you decided to let the world into your private galaxy of letters, i agree with @afronuts , reading more is the key to poishing and sharpening your art. Writing is vast and not everyone will write in the complex , deep or mystifying voice of a sage. Cheery lively light writing has its place and its market, your task is to find it. Nice article and well written too, thank you for this.

    1. You’re welcome. @nicolebassey…and thanks so much for your seasoned words…They make me breathe easier too, knowing my writing has a place in the literary world.

  10. First, I’d like to say that I enjoyed your post. It is well-written and came across as heartfelt and sincere.

    I would consider this line imaginary.

    Do not assume that where you are is where you will always be.

    If you are currently writing what you want to write, then continue to do so. Do not seek “complex, thought-provoking, awe-inspiring” writing. Rather, seek most of all to express whatever you wish to express with the utmost clarity and in the most original way possible. Complexity and beauty will follow with time. And when I say “with time” I mean with practice.

    Don’t rush. Instead, always submit or show only the work that is polished to the best of your current ability.

    Good luck.

    (and as I’m saying all this I’m talking to myself as well :) )

    1. @tadethompson, First, I’d like to say that I enjoyed your comment ;-)

      Your words fill me with joy and a strong feeling of hope.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment so judiciously on this post.

  11. I totally get you and I feel the same way too. Recently, I read the words of Somerset who found that he could not seem to dish out metaphors and imagery with the finesse of “first rate” writers and declared himself to be among the front row of second rate writers. I personally enjoyed his works and thought to myself that he did just fine. In fact I enjoyed his work better than those of some of the first rate writers which is not surprising because I do not like very heavy literature. And so I continue to work on my art, hoping I get to where I want to be, but determined to enjoy myself all the way. And of course I hope I find people who enjoy my work.
    So, here is to us.

    1. :-D Cheers!!! @osakwe, isn’t it just splendid to know that there are others who feel the same way? Now, I don’t feel quite so lonely in my quest “to cross the line”…

  12. A writer improves with time meaning age, experience and practice. And of course we all have our different styles.

    1. @Myne, that’s what I’m beginning to understand. I appreciate the fact that you’re commenting on this. :-)

  13. Queen, you put to words and very nicely too, what I think so many a times.
    There are those times, I sit with a piece in front of me, and feel the need to tear up my work because it just seems plain and does not carry any significant awe-inspiring note in it.
    Funny how there are people with me on this boat.
    And just like you, I would take the advice above given by the ‘awesome writers, and hope to get better in/with time.

    Thanks for penning this, and you sure write well. Go post ‘Chasing pink dreams 3’ jare…Well done…$ß.

    1. Thank you @sibbylwhite, seems almost every writer has their doubts….
      But with all the advice we’re getting, we can only get better, right?
      I’m glad you read this and gave your comment too…

  14. Sometimes simplicity wins…not just in writing, but in life as well..

  15. @queennobo I find this post quite interesting, there are times that I read someone’s work and I’m like dang it! Why didnt you write that, or think of that! and there are also times where I get some feedback from ppl like, you use too many spaces or commas etc etc, You know what I figure, I am me! and I’ll write as me, people read Shakespeare in its original form, or even King James Bible in its original form, they will read whatever you write!
    My advice ye, will be close your eyes and thrust yourself right in the middle of a story, dont think of the story before you shut your eyes, close your eyes and just start and you’ll have such an amazing story to tell! I just did it and you wouldnt believe where I ended up! #Newpost coming soon ha ha

    1. @mobola, now i understand that almost everyone feels that way. And while we are being encouraged to find our own voices and styles, I think that when it comes to punctuations, the rules are fixed. I’d like to see your new post…

  16. Queen, pat yourself on the back, judging from this post, you’ve crossed the line. Look back and smile, but don’t go back, keep on moving forward. Whatever challenges you face are there to make you stronger. Cheers!

    1. …”je ne sais quoi” I love that, though I don’t know what it means.

    2. @excellency, thank you. Je ne sais quoi which literally translates from French to ”I don’t know what”, is used in English to mean a quality that is difficult to, or cannot, be described.

      1. Okay, thanks. Now I know the meaning, I’ll find out the pronunciation.

  17. adams (@coshincozor)

    Let me say this intends to promote the popular but unconventional style. what am I even saying? Yes I’ve seen many a writer struggle with applying the instructions found in creative writing books and his personal style yet at the end he comes out original and good. I believe originality is the number one thing. rules are breakable insofar as the literariness in achieved. A good example of such originality is found in this article of yours. who am I to say what?

  18. It’s like the writer knew me through and though. I’ve never been in doubt reading the works of the great writers and however I try, I’m still wondering if I will also cross that line…. a really inspiring piece… thanks for sharing…

    1. @innoalifa, don’t we all wonder? Thanks for reading.

  19. There is no line to cross. That is the first error you will make. Do not try to be fluid or beautiful or whatever. Write as it comes. Let it come from your inside.
    Above all, read as much as you eat. You read deep books, you write deep thoughts. Simple.

    What you think is a load of crap, people may say is your best ever.
    I will use my Sex With My Father story as an example. I am the only one that thinks its nonsense. And it is the only work I have ever written in about 10 minutes, no revision, no re editing. The others I took my time to wax poetic and writery and deep…end up not doing so well.

    Those works you where you try to impress and be deep and fluid…will end up impressing just you.

    You write real good.

    1. @kaycee, I’m glad you also gave your comment on this. So you say there’s no line to cross? That’s so comforting coming from one of the proficient ones.

  20. The line is crossed, I understand you would cross another
    for as there are grounds, so are lines too. I know a queen,
    you go girl!

    1. Thanks a lot, @ostar… In your words, i’ll say: I know a poet… ;-)

  21. Hmmm… I feel the same as you QueenNobo, always. But like @kaycee said, there is no line to cross… just room for improvement. Sometimes, trying to be perfect ruins a good story. Like I keep telling myself, there is beauty in simplicity, and a lot of it too.

    1. @shadiat….that’s a good point which I must also remember. Thank you…

  22. Hmn…really incisive piece you have here @Queennobo.

    The way I see it life is cut in a mold that fits into many shapes and sizes, and so should literature reflect.
    I have been reading a lot of essays and articles from some die-hard English critics lately, and you would be surprised at the varying perceptions given on various classical writers.

    Waxing philosophical has its place and being witty and simple does too. What is imperative is to apply the right measure and you (the writer) decide the right measure.

    Personally, I really do not think any work of art is quite finished, not Shakespeare’s Hamlet, not Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Not Gabriel Marquez’ Love in the time of Cholera. Given other circumstances, these writers would have written the story differently ,or much the same but in different style or something really different. this doesn’t make their work any less good, it just reveals the fickleness of art itself. It is why a portrait hung on a wall seem to stare at you wherever you stand.

    And because literature is more a matter of perception , it is hard to find an absolute. The line is an illusion, walk it , break it ,cross it… you’d still find yourself asking questions.

    1. @midas, now that’s quite a really interesting angle you’re bringing to it..the art. Your comment is beautiful and well-noted.

  23. @queennobo: don’t we all have that feeling you have? We all do. We don’t all express it though.

  24. You are a wonderful writer QueenNobo. This is just so fluid that I have a funny feeling that you are speaking for others and not yourself. You were also very conscious of your grammar and punctuation.

    Now to the matter: In the end, all that matters is the never-ending quest of a writer to perfect his expression. But then to do this, she must know the audience written for, know who she really is, and know what she wants to say. It is good for a writer to be mentored or have a mentor, but it should never be at the risk of losing his voice. After all, the books we read are like advice: they should be listened to but adherence should be at the discretion of who such advice is given to.

    You might want to read this:

    http://www.naijastories.com/2012/03/on-the-expectations-and-conduct-of-a-writer/

    Well done. Keep improving your art. There is no end to learning.

    1. @chemokopi, thank you for noticing that. :-) As for the article you shared, I see it’s written by you. Reading it right now..

    2. Wow, @chemokopi , you brought amazing depth and insight to this dicussion . These lines i ll ponder on for a long time.
      “She must know … who she is, the audience written for and what she wants to say” Classic :-)

  25. what I have come to realise it that…………just write! You will find your voice and a stlye that is uniquely yours.

    This is a very incisive piece.

    well done!!!

    1. Thank you Lawal…I will also try that out…

  26. You seem to have already crossed the line… Thumbs up to your punctuations, well written.

    1. @elly, do I now? Many thanks for your compliments…and for reading and commenting!

  27. But this is quite nice na! I loved the way you engaged and made me smile a little after a stressful day.

    1. That’s good to know, @enoquin. I’m glad my writing made you smile…again…

  28. I share the sentiments. Thank you for this

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