Between the Words


What’s happening between the words? You know, those spaces there, here, everywhere? Is there time to breathe? Is there something hanging from that last letter there? A thing so essential it’s left unsaid?

And in this realm of the unsaid, the unvoiced, the things that are so obvious that they are omitted – that is where you should concentrate.

Like a breathing exercise, the inhalation and the exhalation are the parts that are often the main focus, but I ask you – what about that moment between? What’s happening in the pause between them, where the lungs are expanded or contracted, getting ready for their next big move? What about the space between the heart beats? What about the space just before you write the word dead.

Going a bit insane, writing and editing a thesis, I became concerned about what happened when I deleted text. Where did it go to? Running the curser backwards over words, sentences, whole paragraphs and pages – I would sometimes amuse myself by saving the occasional s or e hoping, later, when re-writing, I’d find I had completed the word I was writing without actually striking the key. So, my paragraphs would end like this sseees…

But what has this got to do with the gaps, the unsaid, the little markers that divide one word from the next?

Well, everything. Because in deleting that writing I was making more space. I was unsaying. I was erasing what had been written ( I claim in no way that it was actually and good)  and in this I was making spaces. I was giving my poor reader a chance to breathe, to pause on an idea and savour.

Because this is what is needed in writing. Reader’s need spaces to take it in. They need to know that you will guide them, hold them, wrap them in your writing – but no too tightly. Not tied down forever. Because then, they will cut the ropes and flee…

So, give them spaces between the words. Give them unsaid things, these they can learn to trust you and lean into your writing. Give them whole paragraphs missing, just to make the point. And occasionally, when they are least expecting it, give them an extra e, just for the hell of it.

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