word whittling


June 17, 2012

I was thinking today, how a writer is somewhat like a modern day woodworker, or sculptor. Obvious parallels aside (like how paper is made of wood), I was thinking about the process of creation through removal. Of cutting. Of starting with a block of potential, and carving away so much of it until a vision is realized.

About how so much of the creative process is about removal. Not destruction, per se, but elimination. A liberation of the core by means of decimation of the peripheral. The unneeded. The superfluous.

I thought about how the physical act of writing is similar to etching into wood, or stone. How each letter, each word carved into the page adds its mark, but also takes away from the pristine base. Of the process of revising, of cutting, and stripping out words that don’t directly add to the piece. Of making each line count. Of working hard to get the words out of their own way so the ideas can simply flow to the reader. I thought about how this process, at its essence, is sculpture.  The carving.  The honing.  The pursuit of purity of form. The elimination of contaminants.  The simple truth of a vision, realized, free from the static of the world.

This, I thought, is writing. The pursuit of the perfect sentence. Where a person doesn’t read words on a page, but instead takes them in, absorbs them, and can suddenly feel them take root and blossom inside, a physical part of their being.

And when that perfect line is found, there are no words, there is no page, just a shared experience. Organic and tactile and spiritual.  And it’s in that ether of creation and connection that humanity truly sits.


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