A dismal sort of longing…

Word count: 234 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. That’s why, every week, I present a sentence that I’d happily imitate. Today’s comes from Alice Munro.

If I could write like anyone, anyone, I’d chose to write like Alice Munro. A lot of professional writers feel the same. The Irish author Ann Enright had this to say about Munro’s latest collection of short stories, Dear Life:

“It is a chilly business, writing well: even the writer does not know how much is selfishness and how much generosity. Munro has calibrated to perfection the intimate distance that exists between writer and reader. She holds back in order to give us more.”

Munro makes writing look shamefully easy. Characters doing ordinary, every-day things. Simple sentences. Plainspoken thought. Here is one of the sentences I loved best from the story “To Reach Japan”:

The dream was in fact a lot like the Vancouver weather — a dismal sort of longing, a rainy dreamy sadness, a weight that shifted round the heart. 

It’s a funny sort of coincidence that I should discover this sentence in my journal, the day after returning home from a 10-day trip to Palm Springs. I left the warmth of the desert for  a dismal grey Vancouver sky, promising only more rain.

I felt a weight shift round my heart.

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