Pretty Sentences

I spend a lot of time thinking about the creative process and what it takes to produce writing that is both pleasurable and meaningful. In addition, I ponder my own writing goals. Surely, something that I spend so much time doing deserves substantial contemplation.

With the exception of my interaction with the wonderful people whose lives touch mine, writing is the most significant activity in which I engage. I am delighted with it and ecstatic about it. It has become part of me. Undoubtedly, I would not be the same person had I not been led to pursue it. My writing has influenced my life as much as living has affected what I write.

I would like to be able to say truthfully that my objectives as a writer include producing profound communications, bequeathing wisdom to posterity, and leaving a legacy of storytelling, but that is not the case. Although these are noble aims, the truth is that I simply want to create pretty sentences.

Obviously, some sentences are so functional that they are not all that poetical. Merely practical ones, however, if crafted tightly, become subtly beautiful. For me, writing is a quest for exquisite passages, a search for lines with graceful elements of rhyme, rhythm, and sonority. A painter may paint dozens of paintings with the hope of tripping upon a single piece that strikes all the right chords. My pursuit is similar. I write thousands of words of raw material and rely on my artistic eye to pick out the parts with the potential to become exceptional.

Painting a picture takes longer than writing a sentence, but the quest is the same. The artist seeks that one-in-a-hundred painting, and the writer seeks a single, magical sentence. The latter may be an exaggeration on my part, because an isolated pretty sentence gives me but temporary satisfaction. Fortunately, handsome sentences beget more of the same, and in short order, they arrange themselves into pretty pieces of prose. Elegant sets of words generate and attract one another, and the result is rhythmic and sonorous writing that delights both ear and mind.

Setting such an inglorious goal as constructing pretty sentences may strike some as shallow, but the fact is that taking credit for crafting even a single such sentence is tenuous. Rather, what I have is the ability to recognize an attractive word combination when it appears. Although I revel in its beauty, I must remind myself that it merely exists, that I cannot legitimately claim to have created it.

Far be it from me, then, to credit myself with having conceived the substance of the sentence. Truly, that would be overstepping the limits of my humanity and my artistry. I content myself, as a delegate-artist in the creative process, with writing pretty sentences, and I let the force behind the writing concern itself with the meaning.


11 comments… add one

  • Bob December 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Merry Christmas, Doug. Never quit the pursuit!

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  • Doug Eikermann December 25, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Thanks, Bob! Merry Christmas to you as well!

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  • Jacqueline Johns December 25, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Hi Doug,

    What a lovely perspective on writing!
    I truly relate to it.

    Keep up the great work, and all the best for 2012.

    May you continue to co-create a plethora of pretty sentences.
    Jacqueline Johns recently posted..loving you..My Profile

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  • Doug Eikermann December 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Thanks, Jacqueline! I appreciate your reading the essay and taking the time to comment. Merry Christmas and good luck with the continued development of your website in 2012.

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  • Luzma December 28, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Me encanta tu reflexión sobre la escritura. Se me antoja empezar a escribir a mí también y reconozco el esfuerzo de moldear la oración que realmente comunique la idea y sea hermosa. Qué arte! Saludos!!

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  • Doug Eikermann December 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

    ¡Gracias, LuzMa! Como sabes, escribir bien requiere enfoque y trabajo. Afortunadamente, si hacemos el trabajo, el arte está dentro de nuestro alcance. Abrazos!!

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  • Steve December 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    What fascinating and dedicated people I share existence with. Egad, a sentence ending with a preposition is not pretty. Perhaps I can redress the misdeed with personality skills.

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  • Doug Eikermann December 28, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Hi Steve! Thanks for giving me a good laugh! Personality skills do indeed go a long way toward redressing many misdeeds!!

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  • Doug Eikermann January 6, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks, Shelley! Congratulations on creating an excellent website!

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  • Regina March 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Oi Doug,

    Muito interessante a sua reflexão sobre a escrita enquanto arte. Expressa muito bem os sentimentos dos amantes da arte de escrever.

    Fascinante! Identifiquei com sua abordagem. Como leitora, eu gosto de prestar a atenção na estrutura das sentenças, nas construçoes, além do conteúdo. Tudo isto me encanta.

    Parabéns! Regina

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  • Doug Eikermann March 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Muito obrigado, Regina! É maravilhoso saber que tem outros leitores que apreciam as sentenças, os rítimos, e os sons da escritura tanto como eu. Fica interessante que uma sentença bonita comunica mais do que uma de menos beleza. Acho que é porque o proceso artístico de refinar a sentença desenvolve o conteúdo ao mesmo tempo. Foi muito bom ouvir de voçe!

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