a writer’s obligation to indulge in a good soak

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.

Hart Crane

Like most—maybe all— writers, I learned to write by writing and, by example, by reading books.

Francine Prose

Permission to dig into that to-be-read pile! Obligation to expand my literary horizons.

I’m always on the lookout for writers who do new and unexpected things with words. I love the rhyming phrases Lloyd Alexander put in the mouth of his hairy side-kick, Gurgi. I adore the made-up, onomatopoetic words Terry Pratchett uses to describe sounds. I revel in the quirky, dry wit of Georgette Heyer’s Regency lovers. And when I spent some weeks investigating Elizabethan broadside ballads, I wanted desperately to swear like them. A turd in thy teeth!

This is what makes a writer outstanding, their phrases sticking like porridge to the inside of your head: words combined in new spirals and twists, or even expanding upon the dictionary itself if the occasion demands! So I agree with Hart Crane – soak, drench, drown yourself in words of all sorts. But don’t limit yourself merely to one genre, or even to novels in general. Last night I surprised myself by soaking myself in some poetry – and enjoying it. If any of you can suggest further ways to stretch the literary boundaries, do let me know!

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2 thoughts on “a writer’s obligation to indulge in a good soak

  1. Zoe Younger says:

    Great post Venetia. Love words too. Shall I see you in August?

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