I didn't even notice that I complained of blogger's block and then wrote a post on writer's block the next day. -_-;; Well, it just shows how fleeting writer's block can be!
Today I'm just idly pondering the music of writing. See, I've been watching American Idol this season, and whenever I watch it I inevitably draw comparisons between the two different creative businesses, and when the singers are rejected or successful I am reminded of my own highs and lows, or I compare the different attitudes toward rejection, inspiration, etc. to people I know or types of writers in general.
There is also the sad fact of people who just can't sing. Or can sing, but are missing that something that makes them really wonderful to listen to. (Of course, people will disagree on this, which is what gives the world its wonderful variety.) There are some people who want to sing, but just don't have the ear. Are there people who want to write and just don't have the ear? I think so. I've read a few hopelessly off-key manuscripts. But I've seen many more people improve from boring or overwritten stories to, well, enjoyable stories and publication! Still, there definitely is a level of talent involved. Some people can just write beautifully, and you can see it even in early work where they made a lot of mistakes.
I don't know that people are actually BORN with this talent, though. I think this is why the first advice authors give aspiring writers is to READ. Especially kids. READ. I think that's your best chance of developing that subconscious ear for turning a phrase. I don't know if this is something people can fully develop as adults if they're starting from scratch. Can they? It seems like it would be up there with learning another language, at the least.
The best writing is musical. It has a rhythm to it. I was reading this magazine recently on some geeky topic and while I was interested in the subject, the writing just wasn't that good. It was perfectly COMPETENT. The articles had interesting details and descriptions. But the words didn't flow. I've read published novels like that too. Sometimes popular novels with gripping plots. They just don't often become classics. Trends in writing, they come and go, but I'm reading a lesser-known novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett right now and while both style and plot points are old-fashioned, it is still a joy to read. She just has a storyteller's voice.
L. M. Montgomery's voice is probably my favorite. She loved and wrote poetry; I think a lot of good prose writers get it from poetry even though I'll admit to not being a GREAT poetry appreciator myself. Sarah Waters is another writer whose prose is just absolutely resonant to my ear. I didn't really care for the characters OR the plot in The Little Stranger and yet somehow I gobbled that book up anyway. It's an elusive quality. I can't tell you how to do it. It's the art of varied sentences and an occasional wee dash of alliteration or repetition, or a big word thrown in with small ones, or knowing when "There was a..." sounds just right even when it's not active voice. It's things like that, maybe, but also just something else. Something a little magic, sure as Chopin, or Bowie singing "Life on Mars?"