In an interview with Literary Hub, novelist and essaysist Katie Kitamura reminds us of something most creative folks too often forget — that perfectly crafted sentences can become a habit that hobble our true voice. She says:
“BP: I love what you’ve said about the best novels often containing awkward prose. Sometimes a bad sentence can say more than a perfect paragraph—could you elaborate?
KK: I believe in really getting into the muck of writing, getting waist deep in it. I completely understand beautifully written pull quotes, but I do find them slightly puzzling; in a way style becomes less and less interesting to me as I read and write. A series of perfectly executed metaphors is fine, but not at the heart of what I look for in a piece of writing. One reason I’m suspicious of that perfectly executed prose style is that I feel it can become a tic and a way of avoiding the heart of what you’re really trying to say. You can find yourself relying on little linguistic tricks. For me, that was becoming a way of avoiding the complexities I wanted to succeed in presenting. If it’s messy it’s fine, if it’s ugly it’s fine, as long as what I’m expressing is what I want to express.”
Good advice. I see this challenge all the time in my writing clients, who imagine there’s a standard (usually set so high it’s hard to write regularly) they’ll be judged by. Either we stop writing, fearing the mess, or we write the way we think we’re supposed to write, which leads to little chunks of fetishized prose that feel perfect, but just reflect a habit of avoiding messy inspiration.
I suppose the same advice can apply to our lives!
This week, make a mess, wherever you want your voice, your authenticity to show! Innovate, stumble, invent — sing. The world needs our creative messy truths.