My dearest Mrs. Holloway,
On the subject of writing – “to absorb how it is done” (as your Ladyship so cryptically encapsulated the topic in this morning’s email) – I am inspired to enlist my own resources to address the mystery. This I acknowledge is a purely investigative pursuit, not anything you’ve requested – though I hope my thoughts are of some utility in the formulation of your own. Let me begin by saying that writing has proven to be a hobby of boundless delight. For that reason alone I encourage its adoption as a recreational activity. It is something which can be done anywhere, anytime – whether at a desk (on your computer or even a Smith Corona typewriter or by longhand on fine parchment paper with a Diplomat Mont Blanc pen), while watching TV (on your iPhone), in the drawing room (on your iPad), in the middle of night in bed (again, on the iPhone) and – dare I say so vulgar a thing – even on the throne (in lieu of a book or magazine) if the urgency compels you!
Note specifically that I do not equate the limitless pleasure with the opinion (if any) of others about my writing. Be assured that writing is strictly a personal – and unwitting – reward. Though this naturally has its own collateral – for example, that unlike travel brochures or educational texts one is not writing for any particular audience – it also emphasizes the imperative to fulfill one’s own ambitions (itself a discovery process inherent in the undertaking).
Though I would not ordinarily imagine I have any authority to embrace this heady concept of writing, upon reflection I have at the very least been routinely engaged in the matter many years both professionally and as an amateur. I began writing my diaries at age 13 at boarding school, then into undergraduate, law school and the first several years of law practice. Then two things happened. First, I wrote two books, Sepia (an autobiography) and a History of Mississippi Masonic Lodge No. 147 (which subsequently was housed in Almonte’s Elizabeth Kelly Library and even appears on Google Books on the internet). Second, the internet and computers arrived.
After transitioning from the everyday, hopelessly mundane diary narrative I tackled another type of writing; namely, brief biographical accounts, The Brighter Lights of Almonte. Meanwhile I started the general matter of blogs, Duffy St. James (a name based on a pseudonym I had used for years), The Toy Box and Just Write It! The first two were “Powered by Blogger” which means free on Google. The latter was WordPress.com which is similar but laden with advertising as the penalty for its use. Then came my own web site (also a WordPress creation – but this time managed by an independent Web Host for which I pay a small annual amount to CanSpace Web Hosting but there is no advertising) called lgwilliamchapman.ca (under the heading L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B. or Nemo Dat Quod Non Habet). This is the one I am using now (you can see the WordPress identification at the bottom of the page). I initially created my own web site because I had planned to use it in my run for election to municipal council. But I abandoned that project early in the game, preferring instead to winter in Florida. But I kept the web site and obviously now use it as a vehicle for personal writing though I should add that because of the possible “public” nature of the platform I try to avoid saying anything indecent or illegal. It is a small abbreviation. Somewhere along the line I “protected” my web site name by getting Domaine Registration of my heading – which is my own name so there was no copyright problem. I pay a very small annual fee to Name.com for that privilege.
Getting back to the original question about writing – “how is it done” – years ago I read a book about the subject by a famous author (whose name I can’t recall). The book was not helpful; and only marginally entertaining. So I won’t try to compete except to say the following. We’ve all heard the rubbish about “finding your own voice”. Well, there’s some truth in that. My way of looking at it – and, as you know, we’re all looking at the same thing so it is, as the French have so cleverly observed, only a matter of perspective, that is, “how” one sees it – is this: we’re each individuals, not because of any miracle other than the miracle of life. As such, we each have our own voice and we all know when we use our own real voice, not the one that isn’t ours. Our voice doesn’t have to meet any standard whatsoever, neither that of another nor even of our own except to the extent that it speaks what we want to say, however we may wish to say it. Some people like to live in a dream world; others are obsessed with detail; still others are funny and so on. It is always easier to write – that is, to say what you mean – if you say what you mean. Simple as that. It is not meant to be difficult. More importantly there is no learning curve; you’ve already got all the resource necessary to say what you mean. Some people have commented upon my writing by saying that it is at times ponderous (which I interpret as less than a compliment), at times entertaining because they need a dictionary (which I accept as approbation because it stimulates the use of new words, something I obviously enjoy myself). Even the “ponderous” asscusation doesn’t disappoint me because it expresses two elements: one, my historic amusement with philosophy (which was the subject of my esoteric undergraduate degree); and two, my deliberate desire to remain obscure when touching upon personal matters which may involve others.
Well, that’s probably more than enough. I wish you success in your literary endeavours. I will close only by reiterating that writing is a terrific hobby!