The web, then, or the pattern: a web at once sensuous and logical, an elegant and pregnant texture: that is style, that is for the foundation of the art of literature.
So wrote Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) in The Art of Writing. You can download the full text in various formats at this link.
Anyway I’ve taken the liberty of adding a visual aid to go with the quote so we writers can be absolutely clear about what we are supposed to be aiming for.
Actually for me this image says more about the snaggled webs that are my thought processes – all sorts of knotty, misshapen bits, unwanted intrusions, and many dropped stitches. Oh yes, and also fog-bound. And if you look at the photo with X-ray eyes you will just make out a more finely woven web overlapping the larger web – their centres more or less aligned in the upper third of the image. I’m good at doing that too – getting two separate works mixed up with each other so they are impossible to pull apart. So today, you can tell, the writing has not been going well – all hitched up and back-to-front, and too many projects stitched in one.
But as I said – it’s something to aim for – this sensuous, logical web. And the ‘do-over’ is ever an option. Time to unravel the messy bits then, re-string the loom and get weaving. And to all fellow writers out there – may your threads remain untangled and the elegant and pregnant texture be with you.
P.S. I always find myself fascinated by the fact that Robert Louis Stevenson was a rebel writer, broken away (in the face of domineering paternal ambition) from a dynasty of obsessive compulsive, but oh so intrepid, and brilliant lighthouse builders. I feel this may tell us something important about his work.
This web is also for Jude at The Earth Laughs In Flowers because she says she likes webs. She is looking for macro and close-up garden photos this month.