Mind of the Trade

June 24, 2016

Tools-Of-The-Trade

Monday morning I’m stuck deep within the confines of On Writing Well by William Zinsser, finding my thought process winding into non-fiction gear as I prepare for work. My mind suffers from professional-author-talk syndrome and my writing follows suit. Therefore’s and however’s creep into my speech. Professionalism at its finest.

Monday afternoon I’m reading Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, an African dystopian novel chockful of colloquialism and slang, written as the language is spoken, with a myriad of colourful characters each unique in their speech. I’ve switched to calling people “babes” or “chief”, embracing the local lingo like I’m still traversing Bree Street, and hoping to fit into my “culture”.

Monday evening The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures has reduced me to a 19th century philosopher, admonishing my nephew on his incorrect use of the Queen’s language while envisioning a world free of technological advancements as we experience them. And an occasional dabble in alchemy.

It fascinates (and sometimes frightens) me how easily my mind can shift between influences and so quickly too. How pliable is my mind? How much of it is mine and how much of it is Stephen King or Warren Hately or H.G. Wells. Is the Nthato speaking to you now J.F. Penn or Ernest Cline?  Is it an amalgamation of them all? Nthato Barker-Lovecraft-Morgensten-C.Clarke-Pratchett Morakabi?

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. ~ Stephen King

Having a pool of inspirational sources is part of having a mind for the trade. It makes my days cramming the inspirational relevance of Rococo, Pop Art, Renaissance, Expressionism, Realism etc during my History of Art lessons make so much sense. Through understanding others in the craft and their influence, I grow in the craft. Does it matter that I become pseudo-Shakespeare after reading Othello? Perhaps if you happen to be around me, but this pliable mind absorbing the different styles and techniques of various authors is what will help sharpen my writing. Inspiration is synonymous with influence after all. The Oxford Thesaurus said so.

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