Brushstrokes and Keyclangs

I have often wondered what it was that inspired writers. What makes them see things differently from every other person that is a non-writer? The way they weave the stories, make it believable, so that readers can relate with it never ceases to amaze me. When I read a story, it looks so natural, like an everyday occurrence- looks so easy to write; every conversations fit, every emotions and thought processes of the characters understandable and accurate, but then in reality it isn’t an easy task to undertake. Then there’s the word play, choice of words and use of language, the tone and diction; I wonder if there was any training in that. They seem to have attained a mastery of the English language which I can only dream about. Reading a novel, most times leave me awe-struck, not necessarily at the story line but in the way the author weaves a story round an everyday character in an everyday town under everyday circumstances. How do they see these things? I respect their imagination and much more, their ability to translate those mental pictures into words.

Sometimes I compare the literary skills to painting. The pages of the books are canvasses and the words are the brushes with which the image is painted. The author’s choice of words and word play gives uniqueness to the work just like the strength of the brush-stroke and play with colours gives uniqueness to an artist’s. The emotion of the writer can be deciphered from the choice of words just like an artist’s from the choice of colours and brush-strokes. In other words a writer is an artist.

Just like talent is essential in the making of a successful artist, I believe a writer must have a considerable amount of talent in order to be successful. Just like it is not enough to know how to paint or to mix colours, knowledge of the rules of writing and syntax is not enough to make a writer. Most of the artistic work are instinctive, the mind rather than the hand painting- a faint stroke here, a bolder one there, no, not there, there. So also the work of the writer, first an image, a theme, the settings, the people, all conceived in the mind. Translating this image to words is more than words or grammar; the writer allows the image to influence the style, the translations, the words- the mind is given free rein. And this instinct is not learned; it is inherent, inborn. This can be illustrated with the well known fact that the Irish are born story-tellers.

But is talent enough? Definitely not! These instincts need to be fine-tuned. Most writers are handicapped by their word base; they find themselves in a situation where there are no words to adequately express or give life to the image in their head. Then, they either abandon the project due to frustration or they choose to settle for second best and spoil the whole concept. The training of writers starts with a thorough understanding of the language of expression, English language as an example. The rules of writing- grammar, sentence completion, syntax, translation, need to be internalized. The ability to organize thoughts logically and fluently is also needed. More importantly is the descriptive ability- translating the picture conceived in the mind and relaying it for the readers to see it just like it was conceived. This is what separates writers.

In the room of a writer in training can be found wastebaskets full of squeezed sheets, and many others get strewn around the room, hurled in frustration and annoyance; the training process is never easy. But then a writer cannot become a master if he has not littered his lair with torn sheets in the process of self discovery and self development. It is in this process that perfection is found, and uniqueness of style is birthed.

In addition to all these, a writer can none become, if he an avid reader has not become. To become a writer, one must become a reader, a lover of books and a disciple of authors gone before. It is through this that the seeds are sown, the ideas formed, the concept solidified. The process of training becomes relevant and the lessons learnt are made real in the pages of the writing of others. When you read, you identify techniques of writing to learn, to refine, modify or critique. These processes further strengthen and sharpen inherent and imbibed writing skills.

To become a writer is to love writing, to read writings; to nurture words and articulate words. it is to see into the things around, learn their significance, appreciate their importance and to paint a picture of them, allowing the image conceived in the mind direct the stroke of the paint brush of words; their strength and ambience; giving it life and adding colour to it.


20 thoughts on “Brushstrokes and Keyclangs” by topazo (@topazo)

  1. Indeed…”To nurture words and articulate words…..Quite inspiring…More grease @topazo

  2. “every conversations fit, every emotions and thought processes of the characters understandable and accurate,”
    I suspect the above should be as below.
    “every conversation fits, every emotion and thought processes of the characters understandable and accurate”,

  3. And i do not think a writer needs talent to be a good writer. An imagination, which everyone has, and ability to read what others have written is usually what anybody needs to be a writer. If you read so well and so much you will write so well and that much. A natural order. There is arguably no one who is an avid reader who wouldn’t know how to write.
    There are talented singers, painters…is there a talented reader? is there a talented imagination?
    Read, you will write,talent may or may not have much to do with it.

    1. @kaycee you say this because uv gt dt imaginative ability. Hv u tried painting? U wl see dt talent is needed. Nt evrybdy has dt imaginative power to wtite creatively. Personally i knw lots of ppl dt read and stl cnt write….creative writing is both nature and nurture

      1. Painting needs talent of course, not that untalented painters do not exist.
        There may be talented writers, but talent is not a prerequisite for writing. The talented person who does not read can never write. But a reader without any writing talent can still, will still make a good writer.
        I read like mad, so i write. I do not know if i have any writing talents. If i want to improve my writing, i don’t go in search of my talent, i just go to a book.

        1. @kaycee u hv d talent already and ur avid reading hs honed ur skills…

          1. e be like say na you give me the talent.

            1. Lol…when i see sm1 talented i knw

  4. Great write-up.

    I think being talented is what makes one stand out. Anyone can write, but only a talented writer who takes writing serious stands out. It’s d same for all art professions; singing, acting… Beauty of your craft will always showcase you.

    1. I agree wth u.. @electrika

  5. “In the room of a writer in training can be found wastebaskets full of squeezed sheets and many others get strewn around the room, hurled in frustration and annoyance; the training process is never easy. But then a writer cannot become a master if he has not littered his lair with torn sheets in the process of self discovery and self development. It is in this process that perfection is found and uniqueness of style is birthed”… Hmmmh…I do not quite agree with this paragraph. Maybe in the days of Wole Soyinka, the above may still be relevant. But the 21st century writer is part of the ‘thumb tribe’; most writtings are done with ‘computer’. And even if one has to write on paper ‘as draft’ i suggest that one files all the seemingly “bad write up” and get back to them later on, because there is always a ‘gem’ of idea in all write up, no matter how badly written one think it is. So, my submission: do not litter your lair with badly written or off key write up or shred them. File them. You will be glad you did some day. Check this “…wastebaskets full of squeezed sheets…” I think “filled with” instead of “full of” what do you think. Nice piece though. Cheers.

    1. @sassytel thanks fr d observation.
      Some of us r stl old fashioned o…..
      And abt filing dem…well u hv a point

  6. This reading thing can be overrated at times. Be strategic about it. Read to increase your vocabulary (that’s how Chimamanda acquired so much words, both fancy and simple) and see how others, out of thin air, construct this thing called fiction. Also read because you ENJOY the process, and you’d like to be transported somewhere interesting, courtesy of the writer. Some folks have this confused: They read endlessly for the wrong reasons and end up copying every Western writer there is, tragically negating their own voice. Why should I invest in you when I can get the original in someone else? This is the tough part for writers but can be overcome by writing a lot.

    There’s another type of reading, however, that can be very important in this writing thingy: READING LIFE. That’s right. To acquire the ingredients that will help whip up the right concoction or broth that make up your story, you have to open your ears, eyes, nose, and feelings to the LIFE around you. Ever heard of the saying “Write what you know?” That’s what they mean, I guess. The more you invest in YOUR VOICE, which is shaped by your experiences, the better a writer you’d become. This does not mean that you can’t write about alien places. However, human feelings are human feelings, and if you believe that your sense of it is as important as Elmore Leornard’s, then you’re on your way.

    Spin a UNIQUE yarn, and watch the world come banging on your door. Writing is nothing but the putting down, on paper or computer, a UNIQUE movie you’re watching in your head. It sometimes helps too if you have something to say, but it’s that UNIQUE movie that makes your story hum or die.

    Read books so that this fiction thing will propagate, but live, live, live, write, write, write, and you’d be okay.

    Peace out.

    1. @howyoudey nice perspective. But reading is nt overated. You read nt to be sm1 else but to find urslf in d writings of odas…and yes ability to understand life is key to being unique and to be original.

  7. talent? I don’t believe in talent, I just believe I can do anything I give my full attention; same with writing. I know I can not very well now because I’ve not giving writing the full concentration.

    1. There is always nature(talent) and nurture playin diff parts in shaping a writer’s art @adams

  8. Very beautiful piece for a toddler like me. Thank you!

    1. @shomyk thanks..but I’m so sure u r nt a toddler..

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