Wednesday 15 August 2012

'Writers on Writing' Responses.

From time-to-time members of the Cayman Writer's Circle endeavour to reflect upon the comments of far more prolific and well-know writers who offer us insights into the writing process. During our weekly evening sessions we occasionally look at four or five quotes from various writers on some aspect of writing. We then respond to the quote in any way we wish. Sometimes the results are insightful, or thought-provoking. Sometimes they are beautifully worded in their appreciation of, or in opposition to, the comments of the writer selected. Below are some examples of the results of these exercises:

Piet Hein, creator of ‘Grooks’, once wrote:

There is
one art,
no more,
no less:
to do
all things
with art-

In retrospect, what greater praise could a writer aspire to than to be told by a reader that they knew a person very much like one of the characters in a story or play they had written. Or to be told of the significant impact a story or piece of poetry had made in their readers’ lives. A piece of writing that can hold the thoughts and attention of a reader for several days after reading it, or perhaps jolt readers into a creative act of their own, surely is testament to the worthiness of that writing. Piet Hein removes the mystery from the masterpiece. Great writing looks effortless, like it was simple to create, almost as if it were not simply everyday life writing itself. Because of this aspect of simplicity, it can appeal to everyman. It flows effortlessly and leaves a lasting impression on the minds of readers.

Leo Tolstoy explained it in this way: great drama thrusts characters into the midst of problematic situations, and by struggling along with them as witnesses as they fight against tremendous obstacles (physical, emotional, or intellectual), the reader encounters the flaws and traits that make them so human. One-by-one these reveal themselves until we have a grasp of the persons as complete individuals caught within the confines of a situation, and rendered by a master craftsman, the dramatist. Tolstoy said: “Drama, instead of telling us the whole of a man’s life, must place him in such a situation, tie such a knot, that when it is untied, the whole man is visible.” Essentially, what he was saying, was that we do not need to know everything about a person in order to know and understand the person. It is the experience of getting to know a character that makes good writing, whether that be drama, poetry, short story, or novel. We only need glimpses of the soul to see the fullness of that individual. To expose the soul of a person is the essential aspect of great writing.

By: H.M. Peter Westin

"The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Interpreting RWE.

Writers use words and ideas as a builder uses bricks and mortar. The construct will have a familiar feel as the outer walls take shape but it is once you get inside that you will notice the personality of the craftsman reach its zenith. One sentence leads invariably into another and before long the reader has traversed a winding road that has led them forward into the mystery of the night and the unknown. Chaos is close. Upheaval is rampant in the churning landscape of the possibilities of the mind and memory. The old night is pregnant with dreams and haunting emotions. The reader is carried off on a wild, elusive ride of self-discovery, bumping and converging with images and pungent aromas of delightful foreign thoughts, themes and language of the heart.

By: H.M. Peter Westin

Reflection on RWE

I think that what he meant was that when someone writes something controversial, like his views that Jesus was not God, that they have to be brave, and launch into the unknown. The same could be said about writing anything where the writer is not sure of the reaction of the reader. By writing his thoughts, he tries to make sense of chaos and confusion, and goes against the conventional wisdom that he considers misguided (old Night). When people read that he has written something along the lines of their own thinking, they start to write their views too, encouraged by his bravery and excited that they are not alone in their thoughts. 

By: Fiona Pimentel

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say."
     -     Anais Nin
Writers do not say what we all can say but what we are unable to or afraid to say. They constantly struggle against silence, fear, and abuse of all sorts, while the rest of us endure. What is it that enables writers and disables the rest of us? What makes writers shout and others whisper or do not speak at all? Some people were never asked why and they never ask why. Accustomed to dictation, they become dependent and accepting, never searching, always absorbing (good or evil), never unburdening. They are threatened by the voices that preach confidentiality; they fear the voices that have somehow convince them that standing up will costs their future and their children’s future; they are  controlled, brain washed perhaps because there is nothing confidential about hoarding  daily injections of poison, and abuse. You know they want to speak, their eyes scream, face droop, and their bodies crouch, constantly in a silent whisper to anyone who will listen. But fear and threat, those big sticks  keep them quiet. 
Writers are not threatened by fear. In fact they do not have enough fear to remain silent, to see wrong and call it right or to ignore what most people would. Writers expose the darkness other people cannot or do not want to see. They erase the silence of the paralyzed, enlighten the ignorant, and mobilize the relaxed. Writers don’t worry about what others will think, say or do. They have broad shoulders and backs too. The consequences scarcely matter. What is seen, felt, heard or infer will find its way on paper. Job loss, law suits, or even broken ties…writers will not be silenced. They walk for those who are psychologically amputated, speak for the mute, see for the visionless and listen for the hearing impaired. 
Writers are not impulsive. They are in the minority; they take the path of greatest resistance, and take time to think about an issue. Expecting their ideas to be unpopular they prepare for opposition. They are non conformist if conforming is wrong. They may not say much but their actions write boldly. Some say its non-cooperation. But that is OK as long as the message is respectfully sent and correctly decoded. Writers are educators; eye openers; they put the Y in why, and then find the answers.
By: Grace Chambers

Writing Reflection.

"Writing is a struggle against silence."
-         Carlos Fuentes

We all know the saying, that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. But what does this really mean and why do we say it?

If we take up a sword to do battle with, we may have a very real impact upon someone, perhaps on more than one individual. We might be able to force our will upon another through the sheer force of our own physical strength, or the skill with which we wield the sword. We may be part of an historic moment, perhaps even part of a blade of cutting change. Or, we may celebrate a momentary victory, and then slip back into the obscurity of bygone ages.

As a writer, when we take pen in hand, we strike with our intellect and wit. We expose truth in a situation, uncover injustice, or entertain the masses. What we say, and the truth of our beliefs, takes root in the hearts and minds of many. It is there on paper as a record of our reflections, beliefs, and action taken. Our words can continue to win battles and make impressions on the hearts and minds of men well after our own demise and earthly journey into obscurity. We will continue to live in our ideas and in the language and emotion of our writing. Our very words and ideas will strike boldly against the silence of obscurity. Silence is a sign of acceptance and agreement. If we take issue, we must speak out. Our written voice can be louder and longer lasting than the loudest bellow of our living lungs. To write is to stand up and make a proclamation, share our thoughts, ideas and beliefs. It is to reach out with emotion, to offer guidance, to prick the conscience of another. To a writer, there is nothing so terrifying or inhumane as silence.

By: H.M. Peter Westin

Activity: Write about something ugly — war, fear, hate, cruelty — but find the beauty (silver lining) in it.

Beauty in Cruelty?

“Cut me and I bleed,”
Blurted Shakespeare’s Shylock,
And I’m not ashamed to share his sentiment.

“I pray you find peace by killing me,”
Were the gentle words of Ghandi to the gunman.
“Forgive them, Father,” said the Saviour, unselfishly.

There is always beauty
to be found in suffering,
If the victim so chooses,
But this will never excuse cruelty.

Difficult decisions,
Actions chosen,
Must take into account
Kindness and compassion.

“Cruel to be kind”
Is a lie, lazily promoted and
Promulgated by those who are
Too hard-hearted to be considerate
Or care-full.

By: Fiona Pimentel

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