The air is cold. Frost clings to the grass, the leaves, the trees. Fog rises from valleys in towering mountains. It haunts the river; it whispers around the metal bridge as we drive over. Our hot breath collects on the car windows.
We are on our way.
Once in the city, the streets are crowded and small. We turn onto a small road lined with small cars. We park and walk up to a brick building. A red sign hangs over the door. We step inside to warmth. A fireplace glows. Deep armchairs surround it. Tables coupled with chairs are scattered across the wide room. The floor is smooth and dark. The walls are warm and full. Music plays in the background, bright and cheerful.
Pulling up seats to a table in the middle of the room, we wait for our fellow writer to come. He walks in quick with a book bag slung over his shoulder.
All writers are here now; ready to begin.
We pull out fragments of writing, and pens. I have a RED pen, of course. The two boys eye my red pen as I make edits across their pages of writing. They both wish they had RED pens.
RED is the color of the editor's trade. And if you're a writer you're inevitably an editor and you should own a red pen.
The three of us come to the table with different styles, different areas of expertise, and different methods of editing. We are drawn together by the love of words and the conscientiousness of the gift God gives by creating us to use them. When you set out to use the gift God plants inside you, there's a responsibility to glorify Him as the Creator of the gift. With His strength, I endeavor to do this.
I come to the table with a distinct aversion to over-used adverbs; my pen itching to cross-out superfluous words. Once upon a time it was terrible for me to cut extra words from my writing. It hurt. I loved each word. I thought they were each perfect. I know better now.
My companions who sit at the table are very similar and very different from each other. Both admire, sometimes emulating, the rich wordiness of Dickens, Hugo, Hemingway, and Tolkien. Both are sticklers for correct grammar usage.
One alphabetizes his shelves of books, and he thinks we should all speak like characters from Shakespeare's plays.
The other, of my writing companions, is obsessed with correct comma placement and he doesn't love to read out loud.
We set to work. Words fly thick and fast over the table. One of us reads aloud, he does all the accents. Scouring the page, we look for the missing punctuation mark, the superfluous adjective or adverb, the repeated words; the missing words. We halt the reader, sometimes after just one sentence. We rip the sentence apart, tearing it limb from limb, exposing gaping holes. Or, we pause to admire the flow and sound of a sentence. The writer smiles as the other two express sincere esteem for his work. There is humility and gentleness present as we critique and inspire each other in our writing.
The huge clock on the wall behind us ticks away the minutes, the hours. Still, we talk about words; commas; quotation marks. History, stirring music, incredible books, worthy authors, all creep into our discussion. We sip frothy lattes from large white mugs. Our time runs out. Pens and papers are put away.
Time to say goodbye.
I step out of the warm into the light of the setting sun drawing heat from the earth. I take a deep breath filling my lungs with cold. I feel encouraged, inspired, and invigorated. I have ideas for new things to try in my writing. Commas dance before my eyes, a little clearer now. I'm excited about the writing projects of my companions.
Most of all, I am excited and thankful for this vast world our Lord has created for us to discover and express in words.