I learned the sentence by reading it. I made the sentence by writing it.
It is incredibly easy and at the same time incredibly difficult to teach someone to write a sentence. Grammar is grammar. Commas aren’t semi-colons. A clause is either independent or it relies on something. Start with something big – a Capital – and end with something tiny. But a sentence, oh a sentence, can be so much. I can’t teach someone what to write. I can only tell them what they can’t.
Write one sentence that is true, said Hemingway (said everyone since.) Well, can you even write a fake sentence?
You can not write a sentence. You can write a fragment. You can write a run-on sentence. You can leave blank space or you can choose not to pick up the page at all. I can’t teach you to write a sentence. Sentences come from you.
Sentences come from you. Words come from a dictionary.
I learned the sentence by reading sentences. I read them pieced together into books. I read them in essays. I read them in poems (sometimes they weren’t real). I read them in articles and I read them in school. I read them in French and a few times I read them in Swedish and I didn’t understand them.
I read sentences. I still read sentences.
When I speak I don’t speak in sentences. I speak in ideas. That’s why me speaking is nonsensical. I am a sentence maker, not an idea person. I am a writer. I write sentences.