Keys for Writing

It’s past 4 am. I’m here, the train’s here and according to the clock, we should have left the station 15 minutes ago. No news, of course, of why we haven’t left. We’re just asked to bear with it.

I stare out the window, imagining where we should have been by this time – somewhere near the international airport. My thoughts are interrupted by a cloud of condensed flowery aroma, mixed with make-up and accompanied by loud laughter, shrieking and yelling. Just what I need, entertainment to kill the time.

Two 16-to-25-year-olds – due to the mature outfits and the overkill of make-up it is difficult to be more specific – sit down opposite me and a third perfume cloud sits down next to me. I leave my headphones on and turn down the volume.

Books Are so 2000 Something…
I pretend to listen to my music while staring at the window, at the reflections of the girls. They’re talking about school and the books they have to read (or should’ve read). After a lengthy discussion – repeating each other’s utterances, but sounding original by using different pitches – they draw the following conclusion: books are lame, old- fashioned and slow compared to movies. And guess what, nearly any “important” book is nowadays translated into a motion picture, so why bother reading it?

The conversation trails off to movies, actresses, actors, crushes, to the boy at school they all fancy. My own thoughts are still stuck with their opinion of how pointless reading is.

The Key
To me, reading was the first key that opened the door of becoming a writer. After reading a book, I rewrote the story, the plot took on new twists, characters were added and background stories altered. In the beginning, I just made up the stories, then, after a while, I began writing them down.

My own writing style became more like the books I read. And so did my stories. My first stories looked awfully similar to the Famous Five (by Enid Blyton). The more I wrote, the less my stories looked like copies but more like my own. In the end, I only copied the style of the book, and not the storyline. Along the way, I learnt what writing style I liked and what style felt forced and alien.

Reading doesn’t only help to increase my own fiction writing; reading essays, articles and even ads help in learning to write similar texts. Like any art, writing in a specific style needs heaps of practice. The more you read, the more familiar you are with the writing style. One of my professors at the university once told me, in order to write in a specific style, you should find a well, clear written book and reread it until you could recite it backwards. By the time you knew the book by heart you’d also be able to write in a similar style.

Looking at the reflection of these girls on the window, I wonder what their writing skills are like.

Second Key
My thoughts are once again interrupted, this time by an announcement. The train we’re in is defective and we’re all to exit and go to a yet-to-be-announced platform for an operating train. The girls sigh and complain about the railway company as they get up. I can’t help smiling, despite it being very obnoxious and inconvenient, situations like these are my second key that opens another door.

Cecile

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