I remember the enchantment, and the sweet thrills that books brought, and still do, into my life. Not only was my mind nourished and my spirit refreshed, but each book beckoned me to another, and another. These treasures all led me to a vast Eden of knowledge.
However reading as a writer is different from that of leisure. As a writer you have to go beyond the story and learn not just the vocabulary but also note the style of the author’s writing. You discover that words can have melody and rhythm. You learn to appreciate the beauty of simplicity and the importance of brevity and clarity. With time, as your own writing improves, you realize that writing is not perhaps a gift that one is born with.
It is not an art, as William Zinsser points out in his book On Writing Well, but a craft that can be learned and honed. It is hard work and requires one to impose rigorous self-discipline on oneself. Every word in a sentence must express an idea and have meaning, or better still be a pearl, and the superfluous ones be mercilessly culled..
What type of books is the other question that people frequently poise? Perhaps this is personal. I have tried to read poetry but I often found it hard. I read a lot of history, from ancient to contemporary works, and lots of biographies. Maybe the reason for this is that for me writing is not only about the language or just telling a story but also about the great forces that shaped people’s lives and the causes they stood for.
Day after day a writer has to study the vast landscape of the human drama. The writer’s mind is always working as he studies and stores away the form and mannerisms of man. The writer has to always observe, collect and critique things.
But just as important as everything I have already observed, is to tell a story that is worth reading. The very best books, whether fiction or non-fiction, have for me been able both with language and the plot to instantly grab my attention and pull me along excitedly to the very end, leaving me in a state of an almost unending climax. These books, throughout the story, had pace and cohesion.
The best way therefore for me to write is just to write: it is to do so with unceasing diligence, passion and sincerity. As the love affair with writing matures, I have found that the beautiful prose that has often eluded me is, though fitfully, now emerging. Strangely, because of the wonder of words and the beauty of language most creations in life now seem worthy.
I am an ENT surgeon with two published works of fiction: I Speak To The Silent, and A Hill of Fools. For more information please go to my website: http://www.mtutuzelinyoka.com.