Your job as a writer is making sentences.
Most of your time will be spent making sentences in your head.
In your head.
Did no one ever tell you this?
That is the writer's life.
Never imagine you've left the level of the sentence behind.
Most of the sentences you make will need to be killed.
The rest will need to be fixed.
This will be true for a long time.
The hard part now is deciding which to kill and which
to fix and how to fix them.
This will get much, much easier, but the decision making will never end.
As you practice noticing, notice how thickly particled
with names the world around you is.
This will gradually become part of your noticing,
looking not for words to make us see the way you saw--
But for the names of what you've noticed.
Names that announce the whatness of the world to a single species.
It's hard to grasp at first the density, the specificity
With which the world has been named.
This is a planet of overlapping lexicons,
Generation after generation, trade after trade,
Expedition after expedition sent out to bring home
Name upon name, terms of identity in endless degrees of intimacy,
And all at hand, if you look for them.
In the syntax and rhythm of sentences,
In the page of thought, the intensity of movement,
The crescendo and decrescendo,
The trustworthy reader learns the writer's habitude and how to move with it.
You converse, in a sense, with the voice on the other side of the ink.
The kind of reading is the pleasure of being summoned out of ourselves by the grace,
The ferocity, the skill of the writing before us.
How else to explain our love of even difficult writers?
Their agility evokes our agility.
We move at their speed, elliptically, obliquely,
However they move.
Excerpted from Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg Copyright © 2012 by Verlyn Klinkenborg. Excerpted by permission of Vintage, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.