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Archive for July, 2010

From A Writer’s Year by Sally J. Walker

July 28

“Looking for the Familiar in Animals”

The media has given us many examples of strange human-like apparitions in everything from the face of Christ in a potato to Satan’s likeness in the smoke of the Twin Towers. Psychology explains the “visions” as our search for other human faces or “familiar” images. This is how a newborn learns to track Mom’s face then other care givers in its world.

I believe this is another reason we tend to humanize our animal counterparts in this world. On your next visit to the zoo or a farm, watch how the PEOPLE respond to the animals. What are the children looking for or at when they stare at an animal? Why is there an almost palpable spark between the humans and the primates? How long does any human actually look into the eyes of the animal on display? And how often are the comments about human-like behaviors?

There is no right or wrong to these observations. I am simply observing that we tend to look for behaviors or expressions that mirror our humanity, a point of connection, and the psychologists have identified this as perfectly normal.

Now, O Writer, what can you do with this information and this awareness?

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From A Writer’s Year by Sally J. Walker

July 21

“It’s Suppose to be Hard or Everyone Would Do It”

In the film A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, the Tom Hanks character says “It’s suppose to be hard. If it was easy everyone would do it.” He was talking about professional baseball, but I see that philosophy applying to more serious aspects of creativity, writing in particular. Please note I did not say “all aspects,” but only the serious aspects.

I believe the urge to create lurks within the mind and soul of every human being. The lucky ones are those who recognize the urge, feed and nurture it then discipline it into a PRODUCTIVE art form. These are the SERIOUS ARTISTS. Thank God the rare human exists who like Helen Keller lack words to express thoughts and communicate meaningfully with the world.

Language is the first form of communication and mental cataloging for most humans. I believe because of that all humans have the urge to explain the creative urge within. Thus, I conclude all humans are storytellers awaiting the vocabulary and training to release the urges within.

That logically leads to the conclusion EVERYONE is a storyteller. Paired with the first assertion, some people might say the next step is to assert storytelling must be easy if everyone is doing it. Simple communication IS easy in this logical progression, BUT when the term “serious” enters the equation, the concepts change. The qualifiers have changed from simple to complex contributing factors. The primary factor is serious discipline.

When you think about my “SERIOUS aspects of creativity,” you will realize that I think storytelling is hard and NOT everyone can do it as a serious creative endeavor. Not everyone is novelist, a short story writer, a poet, a playwright, a screenwriter BECAUSE those forms of artistic creativity demand discipline. Like the discipline of baseball, the discipline of the creative writer is hard. Not everybody CAN commit to and practice that serious aspect of creativity.

So, do you choose to be one of many dabbling and enjoying your urges OR are you a hard-working writer regularly disciplining yourself to productivity, evaluation, learning? Are you one of many or one of the select few who will succeed in your art because you are challenged by the hard part of your process?

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