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The Secret to Being a Great Writer – By Leslie Thiele

Published 27th April, 2017 in MRP Guest Blogger

I have a wonderful signature. I really do. It speaks on the page of boldness and adventure. It is the signature of someone forthright and true, sure in themselves. The sort of person those of lesser spine look toward in a crisis. There are sweeping loops and a rather stylish underline punctuated by a thorough sort of full stop. There is nothing of the crabbed or mean about it, no spiky temper, just an expansive sort of worldview and a wonderful confidence. It is, actually, so completely at odds with the person who writes it that I am constantly amazed and apt to practice at odd moments simply to make sure it really does belong to me.

Practicing a signature is to the writer what singing into a hairbrush is to the budding songster. At first, it is simply a signing of one’s name. A way of owning something, be it book, cheque or contract. Along the way a little boldness creeps in here and there, the odd flourish appears, the press on paper more definite. Just as in the privacy of the bathroom for the hairbrush crooner, so the furtive writer scribbles their name on napkins, turning the angle of paper this way and that, adjusting elbow position.

When I can’t think of anything clever to write, my signature appears on whatever scraps of paper are lying around on my desk. I can write it large; I can shrink it down, having learned the trick with practice, of not losing anything stylistic by doing so. I think you’re just in love with yourself said my daughter, when I showed her how lovely was my name upon the page. I guess there are always going to be people who don’t understand.

Eventually, even I get a bit tired of signing things, and other words come to fill the pages of my notebooks. Thank goodness some would say, or not.

What a thing it would be to have a signature instantly recognisable by the world. John Lennon springs to mind, and Winston Churchill. Signatures like that don’t just happen. They take some serious hairbrush-type work. It’s a good thing to be ready though, just in case. Don’t you think?

Now that you’ve started to realise the importance of the signature I am happy to provide some tips to the novice. Always see yourself, in your mind’s eye, pen poised above paper as someone signing something in the order of the Magna Carta or a UNESCO agreement. No-one can see inside your head so be bold! I prefer a thin nib myself. A pen that can dig into the paper a bit, harder to erase I believe, or to alter. Blue is fine but apt to fade out toward the end, black a better choice for posterity. I don’t approve of those pseudo-texta nibs at all. If anyone comments on your signature, say little. A slight incline of the head, an almost-not-there smile, both will say more than your words could…depending on the document of course. And on the subject of documents, never get so carried away that you forget to read what you are signing…just a word to the wise.

So yes, I do have a great signature, and I am not ashamed to say so. I will happily scribble it on fly pages for anyone who is kind enough to ask. It’s of small matter to me if I’m mistaken for someone else. Buyer beware I say. It’s the signature of a good writer, no, a great writer and if I could only manage to produce the hundred thousand or so brilliantly conceived and erudite words to precede it, well, look out world!

Leslie Thiele loves reading books and writing stories. Sometimes she gets mixed up and scribbles ideas in the margins. Her short fiction has been commended and shortlisted in various competitions, and sometimes they have even won! Leslie studies writing at Bunbury’s ECU campus and has learnt more there about a writers craft than she ever managed by herself. Her prize winning story, ‘Harbour Lights’, will be published in Joiner Bay and other stories, the anthology of the 2017 Margaret River Short Story Competition.

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