Practice Makes Perfect

A blogalectic with Masha and Mr. Pond.

It's Sunday night, but tomorrow is a holiday and we're still getting settled in our new house (pictures coming soon, I promise!) Fair warning, then: tonight's blog is going to get short shrift.

Last week's impressions word was craft, and Masha talked about the witch side of it. Which, combined with my knitsy-kitschy post, prompted Mr. Pond to wonder why the word "conjures with it a stereotype of—shall we say—ladies of a certain age".

Interesting question. And since I'm tired out tonight, I leave it to yourself to determine.

This week's word: technique. It's a word that gets used a lot in art lessons. And perhaps even more in piano and voice lessons. The images it raises for me consist of shading to dark gray with the side of the pencil lead... imagining that all my fingers were simply digits to raise and lower, so that strength and expression came from the wrist... hours of chanting dee, tee, day, tay, dah, tah, doe, toe, doo, too to strengthen my tongue for the consonants in the German songs.

Oddly enough, it's a word I've heard less frequently in the work of writing. Maybe that's just because I learned so much of what I know simply from reading and writing, rather than from classes.

The concept is as important to the writer as to the artist or musician, of course. There are the exercises: simplifying the convoluted phrase, learning to think in the active voice, creating mood without resorting to cheat words and clichés. Then there are the higher levels of practice. I imagine Lewis listening for the melody of the right sentence, and Hemingway cutting his phrases with an ear to the desolate rhythm; Chesterton watching the weight of every word so the lines would flow light as fancy; Austen aligning each thought, refusing to commit it to paper till it made her laugh.

There's more to this concept, but my mind is out of ideas for the night. What have I missed? Masha, Mr. Pond, anyone else who wants to add a thought—you're up.

1 comment:

  1. So not only did I completely drop the ball yesterday and not post at all, when I finally posted today, I had nothing much to say. Sorry! Technique is one of those words for me that just doesn't inspire. :)

    I like your post though, it gives the impression that you aren't terribly passionate about the word too, which makes me feel like less of a slacker. :) How goes the process of making your new house a home?


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