Someday – when I’m brave enough – I’ll write like Mark Twain.
He manages to be sparse yet fully furnished. Like a minimalist home with a lived-in look. Artful and direct, he takes a meandering track through his stories that wanders all over but when complete seem like they couldn’t have taken any other way.
How does he do it?
I feel like I struck gold when I came across the following passage in his autobiography. He’s discussing the decades-long struggle he had with putting his own story into book form:
“Narrative should flow as flows the brook down through the hills and the leafy woodlands its course changed by every boulder it comes across and by every grass-clad gravely spur that projects into its path; its surface broken but its course not strayed by rocks and gravel on the bottom in the shoal places; a brook that never goes straight for a minute but it goes, and goes briskly, sometimes ungrammatically, and sometimes fetching a horseshoe three-quarters of a mile around and at the end of the circuit flowing within a yard of the path it traversed an hour before; but always going, and always following at least one law, always loyal to that law, the law of narrative which has no law. Nothing to do but make the trip; the how of it is not important so that the trip is made.”
The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1, 224. [emphasis his]