Oia, on the island of Santorini, in Greece, is built on the side of a mountain. While on vacation last spring, I decided to hike uphill into town after a large lunch. I bumped into some tourists coming the other way.
"How bad is the climb?" one asked.
Breathlessly I replied, "It's a bit more arduous than I expected."
The tourists laughed. "Arduous?! It must be really bad!"
I laughed with them. I can't help the vocabulary. I've always been a word person.
A while back, my critique group was comparing writing methods, and I showed them my notebook, and explained how I write everything long-hand first.
"But look at it!" one of them exclaimed. "All those words! You've hardly crossed anything out."
Now that's not entirely true. I do cross things out, add scribbles in the margins, and draw arrows when I want to move whole paragraphs of text. But the words are the easy part. I can always throw out some dialogue, describe a character, create some atmosphere... It's figuring out the story that takes me months, sometimes years of work.
It occurs to me that most of my writing friends are the same way. We scavenge our minds for the perfect word, and in our reading highlight clever turns of phrase or beautiful descriptive passages. I find real joy in structuring text so it flows logically and rhythmically, and my paragraphs end with a powerful punch. And I'm sure that capacity for language makes me a better writer. But I wish story came more easily. I wish I knew people who understand story like I understand language.
Would you call yourself a word person or a story person? Is it a true dichotomy, never the twain shall meet? Or can some people be a bit of both?
And if you are a story person... will you be my friend?
*The picture is mine. And yes, Santorini really is that beautiful. If you're interested, there are tons more pictures here and here.