March 19, 2020

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Malcolm X.

I’m starting to realize how hard it is to improvise my sentences while writing with a pen. My pencil – and computer – has spoiled me. I tend to write down any sentences that come to my mind that seem to work without much thought. But with a pen, too often, my plan for a sentence changes just a little bit when I am half way into it. Because I cannot erase liquid pen ink, that sentence’s initial form forces me, aiming for coherence, to adjust my thought to it. This usually gives me fluffy and opaque language.

Suppose I accidentally begin a sentence with the passive voice where unecessary, such as “I was compelled.” I then realize the mistake. But because I cannot erase it, to fix it, I end up writing “I was compelled by…” I have one of two choices: continue the problematic sentence or cross it out. One day, though, because of this same problem, I did something else: it compelled me to tear out several pages of hideous writing to rewrite it with a pencil. That’s how bad it was. Writing with a pen, it seems to me, has become a game of compromises between me and my sentences. Until I learn to keep my thoughts together and plan a writing beforehand, I suspect I will continue to have this problem.