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In the next several chapters, we will begin our exploration of writing by discussing some of the basic building blocks of the writer’s trade. These are the essential tools we work with, and they can be a source of inspiration. So what better place to start than with language itself? Most writers are obsessed with language, and for good reason. Language is the essential medium in which writers work. Painters have to learn about their tools of paint, brushes, and canvas or other surfaces, sketch artists learn to work with different pencils and the textures of paper, sculptors learn the properties of clay or stone or metal, and musicians learn the qualities of sound, the sequences of scales and chords, as well as the physical properties of their chosen instrument. Writers work with words and sentences, so it is no wonder that we pay close attention to their meaning and to their more physical properties of tone and rhythm. It may seem odd to focus on language, though. After all, we are all adults and have been speaking one language or another for nearly two decades, possibly longer. We have heard language since the moment we were born, and we can use it without consciously thinking. And yet, precisely because language is so familia.
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