Three reminders

I did library rounds today and luckily, chanced on a journal essay on “Revive Manila”, written from a planning and policy perspective. Add that to my growing list of readings on cities and by now, I would have a small hill on my desk. I woke up with words crowding my head and decided that this week I will write about writing. At the moment, I go back and forth between two guides. The indispensable Strunk and White and some paragraphs from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s collection of short stories, “Strange Pilgrims”.

Strunk and White (Macmillan 1979) sits on my desk and when I feel that I have been rambling both in thought and written word, I leaf through my copy’s browned pages. Three reminders from the chapter on Style:

“Write in a way that comes naturally.”
(1979:70)


“Clarity,clarity, clarity. When you become hopelessly mired in a sentence, it is best to start fresh; do not try to fight your way through against the terrible odds of syntax.” (Ibid)


And finally the advice to rewrite and revise.

I remind myself of these again and again, aware that I am prone to forget them. To write naturally, is perhaps to let one’s voice through because words bear the imprint of the writer’s soul. One of my colleagues gave a sound advice, and that was to religiously write just about five hundred words a day. I once formed the habit of getting up at three or four and churning out just about that length for my thesis. The same colleague likewise chided me for writing in a veiled manner, and that I was nowhere in my text. Clarity will always be a goal. I once envied someone for his crisp,consistent clarity and thought what a fine gift it was. That brand of clarity is like a cloudless day without wind, the world aware of the stupor it breathes. It was engaging, but almost brutal at times.

Tonight, I revisit Marquez’s stories and live in his characters’ universes before sleep.

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