Friday, March 7, 2008

Twenty-Six Letters

I was listening to NPR in the car the other day. Terry Gross was interviewing Richard Price the novelist and screenwriter. She asked him how he likes his new venture working with other writers for HBO's The Wire. He said he enjoyed it because he had other people to talk with now. Then he said, "You know, writing is so isolating. I mean, basically you sit there for 30 years rearranging 26 letters of the alphabet by yourself." I almost stopped the car to write that down. It was so simple yet profound.

Because that's what writers do, isn't it? They simply take the same old 26 letters and rearrange them again and again and again. The same 26 letters that make up a comforting child's nursery rhyme can also create a story of suspense and terror. Then, arranged a different way, those very same letters can create a world of uplifting joy and happiness.

I think writing today is an unappreciated art. Anyone can type out a story on a computer and using spellcheck create a technically correct piece. But it takes a real artist to weave those 26 letters into a story that sets a mood, paints a picture, fleshes out a character, and truly captures your attention.

So I say, "Thank You" to all those writers who've spent years in isolation arranging and rearranging those 26 letters into all the wonderful tales that I've enjoyed. You are truly artists.
p.s. I know I promised more needle felting today, but it's not quite ready, so we'll do that tomorrow.


Pat said...

Fabulous post! I have such great admiration for auhtors who can bring an image into my mind, and make me feel as if I was going on a voyage to a different time and place. I always marvel at that talent and imagination.

I will have to go to NPR's web site and see if I can find that interview online.

Thanks so much!

Have a good weekend.


Tara said...

Wow, isn't that true...rearranging 26 letters! I have never thought of it that way even after teaching English 17 years! I always held in awe what writers do because I have this dream of being locked away to write it all down! There's definetly a different feel from when I typed on my typewriter in college to the feeling of a actually took a bit to get se to when we all mae the switch, don;t you think??
Loved this pst, your blog is lovely!
Hope you can take a hop over to mine!

Mary said...

Hi Laura,
I smiled when I read this post, because I always listen to NPR in the car and often sit in my driveway to hear the end of an interview or news report.

I love the quote -- simple, eloquent, perfect!