The Art of WritingTuesday, April 23, 2013
Whenever I draw (which is rarely, for reasons that will immediately become apparent) I do so meticulously. I reshape every line, redraw every curve, fuss and fiddle over and over and over because I just. can't. get. it. quite. right, until the page is obliterated by pencil marks and any hope of subtlety or movement has been lost in the pursuit of perfect imitation.
These illustrations by Francesca Waddell are about as far removed from my scratchings as you can get. A few strokes of ink, a splash of watercolour, and the page comes alive. The curve of a neck. The swish of a skirt. A piercing gaze. How does she DO that?
I write in much the same way as I draw. You'd be amazed how long I spend crafting even the shortest post. Finding the perfect pairing of image and word, coming up with a title, getting the alignment just so; a perfect blog post is part engineering, part alchemy. Very rarely does it flow from my fingers with ease, the way I imagine Waddell's subjects spring to life at the flick of her brush.
The difference with writing, though, is that the longer I work on something, the simpler it becomes. Sentences are excavated from the rubble of adverbs and adjectives. Words are chipped away, until only the bare meaning remains.
With writing - unlike my half-arsed attempts at art - the more I reshape the lines, the better they get.
Two years ago, in a characteristic flurry of motivation, I wrote a life list. I then abandoned it so comprehensively that I took it off the blog entirely as part of the redesign process. I've crossed off a couple of things since writing it, but nothing that felt like a huge personal achievement: being a bridesmaid (amazing but outside my control); going whale watching (I booked some tickets then turned up and went on a boat! Go me!); reaching a (fairly low, let's be honest) comment milestone on this blog. So far, so meh.
Last week, I crossed off a big one. A whopper.
I got paid for something I wrote. Paid in actual money. For something I wrote with my own hands.
Emerald Street's guide to weekend happenings in Edinburgh and Glasgow from my friend Zoë, who has upped and moved to London.
I'm not a big magazine girl, but I have a lot of time for Emerald Street and its big sister, Stylist. It's hard not to love a respected publication that tweets things like "LEAVE OUR MUFFS ALONE" and sparks a run on name necklaces spelling out "Feminist." Even Vagenda approves. Plus, it's free. BONUS.
And the icing on the cake? Emerald Street's signature illustrations are produced by none other than the lovely Francesca Waddell. So it's smart AND pretty. The magic combination.
I'm still finding my feet, so those of you who subscribe to Emerald Street (if you don't, and would like to, you can do so here), I would love your feedback as the weeks go on. If you think my recommendations aren't diverse enough, or I have too much of an Edinburgh bias, or I just sound weird and/or crazy then please, please let me know.
As for those readers who have the misfortune to live outside the glorious central belt of Scotland, fear not. I won't be spamming you with Emerald Street stuff, although I may occasionally tweet recommendations that don't make the final cut. The upside for you is that more writing, for me, usually means better writing all round.
Things are about to get interesting.
All images by Francesca Waddell