Thursday, July 09, 2009

Repetitive and Redundant

Writers love to write about writing. Virginia Woolf did it, Strunk and White did it, you know Stephen King did it. Of course most of the people who read these books about writing are other writers. Writers read about writing, and then write about reading about writing, and then readers read that and maybe write some more about it. As cyclical and redundant as this seems, it kind of makes sense. After all, if there's one lesson to be found in both Little Women and Orange County, it's to write what you know. Writers know about... writing. So that's what they write about.

I have to admit that I'm a bit guilty of this myself. I mean, I'm doing it right now. Plus, a couple of posts down from this one there's a poem about a poet. I've written several other poems about the actual process of writing poems, too. (Naturally, no one has read these.) I also recently wrote a song about song writing; at least, that's what it started out being about, but by the time I finished I was quoting a Psalm and singing a U2 song.

When I think that the songs have all been written
And there's nothing more, nothing left to say
You come and take my heart, my soul, my voice, my rhythm
And I hear a new melody begin to play

And I am waiting
Waiting on You
To make my broken
Melody new
You are everything
Borrowed and blue
Every song I sing
You make me new

Of the million songs that praise your lovingkindness
All of them together couldn't say enough
But I give You one more voice, one soul, one song, one promise
'Cause my heart has been transformed by Your love

I will sing, sing a new song (repeat)

In the fortieth Psalm King David wrote: "I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit, out of the miry clay. He set my feet upon the rock and made my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God." David wrote about writing, too. But his writings about the song writing process don't cover word choice or verb tense or, since music is a form of poetry, meter and rhyme. He wrote about the experience that the song came from. The only time he even mentions the actual song, in fact, he says that it's not even his; it's from God.

When I write, whether it's a song or a poem or a blog post, I usually don't think about the process; I just let the words flow. Consequently, I've always been perplexed when writers attempt to verbalize a thinking process that's different for everyone. (Isn't it odd that I can't really verbalize HOW I verbalize?) In that way, if in no other way, I'm a little bit like King David: my focus is on the experience that inspires the writing. And, as I realize now, like every good thing, every word and every song is from God.

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