Against the grain

I want to offer an idea and see what you think. It’s mostly this: writing is like carpentry.

You’re already thinking about solid, robust construction and I imagine the word veneer isn’t far away from your mind. It would be great if you also thought about craft and skill and talent and art.

I want to think about the reader, though.

When you’re reading something, I offer that it’s like running your hand over a piece of food and specifically that it is like doing so against the grain.

Maybe it’s a little bumpy but certainly you catch your skin on the burrs and cuts and imperfections.

Then when you’ve finished reading, I think good writing should be like running your hand back across the wood and this time in the direction of the grain.

This time everything perfectly smooth.

No surprises and no cuts on the way back. As many cuts and scrapes and pains on the way forward.

It’s only a thought. And as well as suggesting that writing should be surprising until the reader looks back and sees how it makes sense, I’m also offering that writing needs to be that crafted and to look as if it isn’t at all.