This month I journeyed to Italy to experience firsthand the renaissance art and architecture of Venice and Rome (I'll have to get to Florence next time!). Not surprisingly, I came home feeling inspired to be a better writer and editor.
There is an art to writing and editing--a sensibility or familiarity with words that runs deeper than grammar rules. I believe the search for this innate wordsmithing is a lifelong ambition, realized through excessive amounts of reading, writing, editing...repeat. All while getting better and closer to nurturing your truly authentic author voice.
I recently gave a presentation on editing for self-published authors, hosted by the Capital Crime Writers and the Ottawa Public Library. The audience was engaged as they tried to work out the cost-benefit of spending money on hiring an editor while bound to a self-published author's budget. While I regaled the virtues of editors and how they can improve a manuscript, it was my co-presenter, author Linda Poitevin, who rightly reminded us that it is the author's authentic voice that reigns and must not be lost in the process of preparing a manuscript for publishing. So true.
Bernini sculpture on Ponte Sant'Angelo, Rome.
Back to Rome. While I was there, I passed the magnificent Bernini sculptures en route to the Vatican Basilica and Museum, where I took a guided tour that included the Sistine Chapel. We learned of Michelangelo's unheralded accomplishment of bringing the truly unique style of renaissance art to the world--one that saw him transfer his deep knowledge of marble sculpting to the tip of his paintbrush to create lifelike portraits and scenes on the walls of the Vatican. As a young man, he'd also been praised for his marble sculpture Pietà--depicting the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother, Mary--which now sits at the entrance to the Vatican Basilica. At the age of 24, he'd already found his original, artistic voice.
Grand hallway, Vatican Museum, Rome.
The following day in Rome, I visited the Keats-Shelley House museum at the base of the Spanish Steps, which were at one time a popular hangout for pontificating politics and art. Keats would listen to these animated discussions from his upstairs window, even as he became overcome with tuberculosis and lay weak in his deathbed. He was only 25, yet he'd already found his authentic author voice and is known today as one of the principle writers of the Romantic period.
Now that I'm back in Canada, surrounded by birch trees and frosty landscapes as we head into winter, I'm going to keep refining my voice. And the best way I can do this is to keep being inspired by other artists, authors, inventors, and creative minds, and to keep writing, writing, writing...