It’s in the Style

Writing is difficult. Not in the sense that it’s hard to type, although sometimes it sure feels like it, but it’s a skill that is weird in terms of development. In drawing the progress is visual, and in things like maths and sciences there is empirical data (most of the time). With writing, however, the markers you look for to see improvement are so immeasurable that to me it falls into the “you can tell when you see it” category, and it seems that I’m past due getting my writing eyes checked.

There are always the minute adjustments we make. While I still don’t know what the hell is the proper use of ‘who’ vs ‘whom’, I do learn new grammatical nuances every so often, and they seem to improve my technique. That’s easy to spot and pay attention to in revision, but there’s always that style thing happening where somedays you just don’t sound like yourself. Yes, I can adjust the amount of adjectives, or diversify the sentence structures, but spotting my own style is impossible to my involved brain. It’s too close to the thing it’s doing, and unlike in drawing, there’s no option to mirror it and look with fresh eyes.

The thing about style is that it’s how we write, it’s innate, it’s refining itself with every word on the page, and it’s cloaked in a shroud that only falls away with time. Very frustrating for a person with the attention span of a fly. I am certain that the same thing happens with other skills, I’m not special and it’s not cold enough for snowflakes to come into play yet, but this is my skill, and it’s the one I have to deal with.

Now, the frustration is always there when I write, because there’s always the sentence that just doesn’t sound right, or the word that doesn’t perfectly fit the mold I need it to. The thing is, the fun always overshadows that, but it doesn’t linger like that uncertainty does. I felt stagnated for months. All through summer I just didn’t feel like writing, because everything I wrote sounded boring and the same as always, and not fresh. But yesterday I did a thing that I do very rarely and reread an old story. It read smooth, and I was impressed and elated. There are a bunch of places where I made technical mistakes, and spots where the same word shows up over and over, and sentences that are too long, or too many short ones in a row. And there is the clear sense of the style that I am never sure that I’m managing. It’s right there, among the occasional misspelled word. Clear as day, no longer familiar, but bearing my signature all over.