The Writing Life

There are writers, and there are readers. Readers perhaps read more than writers do. After all, whereas all writers are readers, not all readers are writers. I write early in the morning and read later during the day. Sometimes I read for thirty minutes or less, sometimes for two hours or more. If I read during the day, I am looking for inspiration or doing research. At night, the tactile connection with the weight of a book is calming and turning the pages grounding. This quiet time with only me and a book is why I prefer print to digital reading. Digital reading is for research, newsletters, and website articles, but I find the interaction with the screen distracting; it doesn't let me pause and weigh the words in a story. It doesn't let me read like a writer.

My Writing Views Marie-Claude Arnott

Writing demands a free state of mind. Painters will tell you that too. For this reason, what I free write every day is not good writing, especially when clear thoughts are resisting me. Like any craft or art, writing is the pursuit of learning, and learning grammar in a second language is like doing math in a second language. It adds a layer of difficulty to comprehension. My mother tongue also influences the way I express my thoughts and my choice of words too. As a result, I often double-check my vocabulary, especially idioms that are commonly misused and therefore misinterpreted, especially for an ESL writer.

Good writing is difficult. Daniel Hawthorne says it best, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Writing is how I give form to my thoughts. Vocal expression is more difficult. Sometimes what was meant is not what was heard. In writing, the creative process takes over, extracting from the mind the words that will come together as phrases, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and the story. Writing means that a thought can be refined almost endlessly. For this reason, my first draft can turn into as many more drafts as necessary until style, syntax, grammar, and vocabulary at last say what I truly meant. Until my writing becomes easy reading, too. It requires both focus and relaxation. It is almost like trying to remember a dream. The more you chase it, the faster it returns to your unconscious mind.

In the end, writing is a need that I must satisfy. My friends know that the word gazette—French for periodical—as the subject line of my email means that it won't be a two-liner. Simply, some days, it is with whom I want to share my thoughts.