A Perfect Recipe of Words
“The cicadas pierce the air with their searing one-note calls; dust eddies across the roads; from the weedy patches at the verges, grasshoppers whir. The leaves of the maples hang from their branches like limp gloves; on the sidewalk my shadow crackles.”
~ from “The Blind assassin: A Novel” by Margaret Atwood
The great thing about striving to be a better writer is it forces me to actually do the “be in the moment” “be present” stuff, which I would struggle following through with otherwise.
If I want to describe the taste and texture and smell of a peach and the way it feels to have the juice running down my chin, I have to pay attention when I’m eating a peach.
My eyes and ears, skin and nose are hungry to take in every ounce of life around me and then run through my head full of words to describe it. I spend hours reworking a sentence until I think I’ve got it just right, yet I’m always left feeling that I’ve somehow missed the mark.
I’m reading “The Blind Assassin: A Novel” by Margaret Atwood. This book is full of language poetry that only lives in my writing dreams, like the quote above and this one:
“Men sit in the booths, only men, in baggy jackets like worn blankets, no ties, jagged haircuts their legs apart and feet in boots planted flat to the floorboards. Hand like stumps: those hands could rescue you or beat you to a pulp and they would look the same while doing either thing.”
I read such paragraphs over and over, working to understand how she has managed to put these words together to both paint an image and send a shiver up my spine thinking about those hands…
Did the sentences come out just that way? Did she write it, then go to sleep, and have this gorgeous arrangement come together in her dreams?
I hope some day I will be able to paint vivid images with words and then I’ll have the answer to my questions. For now, I’ll just enjoy the pleasure of whispering an especially catching phrase to feel the texture of it on my tongue. And watch the lines in a book come together before my eyes, creating a place I can almost reach out and touch.