The Coming Around of a Sensible Word


And it’s slow, so slow the idea,
The coming around of a sensible word.
It hovers and shakes like a hummingbird wing
At the end of a long hot year.

Kelly Joe Phelps – Tight to the Jar

Mr. Phelps very well captures the essence of writing¬†in the bridge from Tight to the Jar. Always the task of the writer is to make the words sensible–knowing that is easy. How to do it, well that’s a whole ‘nother deal.

After finishing my second draft of Shadow of the Black City, I’m ready to once again try my hand at the short story form. It’s been about 120 K written words since I tried it last, as well as a few hundred thousand words of reading. We’ll see how it goes.

The short story is intimidating to me because I can’t sprawl too far from the center of the story. It’s a tincture of story, a concentrated drop of emotion, a distillation of character. Hopefully it doesn’t come on too strong early and leave the reader wanting at the end.

For the past eleven months I’ve probably written somewhere around 300,000 words between two drafts of my novel, a few pieces of flash fiction, a short story that started out at 10k words that I eventually whittled back to just under 4k, and this blog. Each day of writing represents a cumulative honing of my craft.

And I can tell.

With each stringing together of words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and so on, my writing feels less rickety. It’s kind of like a rubble trench, a hodgepodge of debris that alone is weak and useless. Pile up enough of it, and you’ve got something.

I’m chucking all kinds of stuff into the trench. Eventually it will be full and I look forward to building something strong on it, something pleasing and comforting.

If you’ve never listened to Kelly Joe Phelps and you like acoustic, slide and fingerstyle guitar (not to mention kickass songwriting), check him out on the You Tube. Seriously.

Comments ( 6 )

  1. ReplySarah
    Hi! Just saying hi, really. Wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your sensible words. I, like you, am interested in how other writers work. And, I drink a lot of coffee. Apparently, it's a writing rule.
    • ReplyJonathan Danz
      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you've enjoyed the posts. I've just poured myself a fresh cup of coffee (some sort of Free Trade breakfast blend) and now I'm going to head over to the Folding Fields.
  2. Replysarahwedgbrow
    A friend of mine visited Costa Rica last year and brought back some coffee for me--I haven't been able to drink anything else. Starbucks (I know, soul-less) do a Costa Rican blend that's very nice, but not quite the same as the real thing. A good excuse to travel, maybe?
  3. ReplyJonathan Danz
    Say what you will about the soullessnessessness of Starbucks, they still make the best cup of regular coffee hands down. You never have to wonder what you're going to get. However, if you can use coffee as an excuse to go to Costa Rica, you should do that!
  4. Replysarahwedgbrow
    Yeah, Costa Rica...maybe I'll get there one day. There are too many other places I'd like to go first. Starbucks do make nice coffee (with a possible additive that makes it smell a certain way that only Starbucks does?) Back to you write to music or does it just inspire you? curious. Kelly Joe Phelps is outstanding.
    • ReplyJonathan Danz
      I do listen to music when I write. I've got a mix of soundtracks (Black Hawk Down, LoTR, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven) and other instrumental stuff (anything from Ibrahim Ferrer to Ernest Ranglin to Ali Farka Toure). Occasionally I'll venture into music with words if I'm looking for a particular mood. That's where Kelly Joe Phelps and Tom Waits come in.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>