A writer occasionally knows their prose is straight, keen and true; often knows it isn’t quite, but without being sure what the missing element is, or the false note.
I like Williamson’s demands on himself particularly as his book, ‘facts, you know’, is a man’s eye view of being an otter, based on a man’s careful observations of otters and their world. Pure fiction in other words, but nothing could feel more real. At least to another human – we will never know what an otter would make of it. Elsewhere he uses a bright metaphor for such authentic writing.
‘I knew the prose was straight, keen and true – facts, you know. It is all here in Devon, if you just happen to see or hear or smell it.’
Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F. Tunnicliffe (Harmondsworth: Puffin Books, 1976 (1927)), p. 11
Photo credit: Annie Spratt at unsplash.com