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Archive for September, 2010

From A Writer’s Year by Sally J. Walker

September 29

“The Consuming Fires of Artistic Freedom Await”

No matter the genre (poetry, dramatic, fiction or non-fiction) I firmly believe one should NOT write to a trend. Write to YOUR heart. It is a well-known fact that new writers hungry to be published or win praise from an instructor will try to “sound like their role model.” Intense hard work of hours and hours of practice will teach such people to turn inward and listen to internal voices. The mind-heart-soul is whispers a singular call to write what that person truly HAS to write, not what others dictate or expect. I’m not kidding. I’ve “been there, done that.”

In any art form one has to learn the craft. Each art form has its own fundamental techniques and skills. When the craft is learned under someone’s tutelage by lecture or example (as in reading, reading, reading) a natural consequence will be emulation . . . at the beginning. HOWEVER, once the tools (language, grammar, structure) feel comfortable rather than forced, it is time for the creative person to tune into those whisperings of the mind-heart-soul.

I am saying your MUST write what captures YOUR imagination even if it is totally the opposite of the instructor’s style or the published market at the time. The key here is your command of your genre tools. The flow has to FEEL comfortable, not necessarily easy. Nothing about creation is easy. It is NOT the dictate of fine art elitists who call commercial writing “abandoning true artistic effort for the sake of money”and “lazy, ignorant hack effort following someone else’s guidelines.” It is gut-deep understanding of what you want to do and how to get it done.

In my opinion, voice and artistic freedom are discovered when you are writing what ignites you with a consuming fire, a gut-deep desire that drives you to put word after word on the paper (or computer screen). Be aware that at first the flame teases you to pay attention then singes the edges of your imagination, nagging and irritating. Next, it sends runners of hungry flame through your thoughts until it bursts in a roaring conflagration that cannot be ignored. You HAVE to write this poem, this story, this script, this article. Everything else in life from the mundane to the emergency is an intrusion. Instinct forces you to the writing. You don’t care about instructor or market. You have something to say that HAS to be said or your soul will be less. Your soul will be frustrated, damaged, cowering. That kind of writing is incomparable artistic freedom for YOU.

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There be Fairies and Beasties Among Us!

From A Writer’s Year by Sally J. Walker

September 22
“There be Fairies and Beasties Among Us!”

I come from a culture of storytellers, the Celts with Scots and Irish all over my family tree. Like many others, this particular culture has folk lore rich in mythical little people (Brownies among the Scots and Leprechauns among the Irish) and all sorts of mysterious creatures, some good, some bad but all with lessons to teach. Their imaginary experiences safely demonstrated what to do or more often what NOT to do. Their stories taught fundamental values of the culture. Nothing wrong or simplistic in that function, but what about the “fun factor?”

In our modern age, our technological age with logic and science dictating so much of our lives, we tend to discount the value of all that folk lore. We scoff, wink, smile at the childish naiveté that believes in this magical world of make-believe. At the same time we allow ourselves to enjoy the fun and escapism of the stories of such beings. Their mischief, life lessons, and adventures intrigue the imagination and invade our dreams with possibilities, especially in childhood.

It saddens me that we firmly stomp on childish make-believe. We are convinced a child absolutely MUST separate reality from the adventurous side of such folk lore for fear that immature little person might take dangerous risks that are easily circumvented in the make-believe world. Yet, in the next instant, adults seek to set aside reality and ESCAPE into the entertaining world of make-believe. Hm.

Myth and folklore have created a never-ending circle in our humanity. As children we are thoroughly captivated, real life shatters those illusions, then, as adults, we go looking for the storyteller’s credibility that convinces us the fairies and beasties COULD exist. Isn’t that an interesting conundrum?

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