Tag Archives: Writers

Are Today’s Writers Irrelevant?

Writers “can make an impact on the social and political life of the nation by using their reputations as thinkers and writers.” But, “When I look at the contemporary scene, it seems to me that writers make no impact at all.”

“Writing, I am afraid, has become a self-promoting activity. To see writers hankering for rewards is to lose faith in their ability to play any role beyond a selfish one. […]”

“…the mystique surrounding the writer has all but disappeared. Writers are now seen at so close at hand that there is no longer any awe surrounding them. By making the writer a celebrity, the media has weakened the writer’s role and taken away to some extent, her freedom. To want to be known and to be known -both these erode the writer’s freedom.”

“Fame brings its own pressures and Virginia Woolf ‘s words say it beautifully: “Now I think Shakespeare was very happy in this that there was no impediment of fame, but his genius flowed out of him.”

From: m.timesofindia.com/life-style/books/features/I-am-frustrated-by-the-impotence-of-writers/articleshow/49308748.cms

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Writers Can Make a Better World

“Literature is constructive as well as reflective, and there is certain power in this.

Novels rising from moments of conflict and hardship sharpen focus on the inequalities and struggles of those times.

… such narratives raise awareness of key social issues and potentially move the culture toward empathy, understanding, change – or else underscore unfortunate cultural resistance, the failure of those things to eventuate.

…writers and artists who direct their work toward the prevailing issues of the time can […] alter the real world, for the better.”

From: theconversation.com/writing-for-good-in-the-contemporary-novel-of-purpose-48104

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Real Writers Follow Their Rhythm

Writers… “we’re storytellers, craftsman. We do care deeply about language. We want our words to dance to a particular rhythm… One of the tools we use is repetition. Unfortunately, it’s the tool most despised by bad editors…  English teachers, those non-writers responsible for teaching us how to write. It begins when they circle a word that appears a few times in a single paragraph and ask for an alternative…

English teachers who don’t practice the craft of writing — and that’s the vast majority — can’t ruin real writers. They can just give them bad grades. Real writers know that writing has to be heard, not just read.  They find a beat, a rhythm, and they follow it. They can’t help it.

But the rest of the class walks away with the false knowledge that good writing is something you can diagram; that it’s meant to be seen and not heard; that rhythm is a tool for poetry, not prose.”

From: washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/09/04/how-corporate-america-killed-my-writing/

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Revolution Will Not Come From Materialistic Writers

“Though the mouth has hardly ever ceased to be “muzzled by the food it eats to live,” nature has always had this quaint way of producing those daring ones determined to go against the grain.”

“No doubt one has to have the conviction of steel to take such a stand, and this decision will not appeal to a highly materialist writer. The very rich who write for kicks are not too fussy about integrity or conviction, though they can be if they so desire.”

“There are stories galore about writers with a passion for truth but who under pressure were forced to compromise.”

“well-to-do folks with their full quota of daily calories, can write well but have nothing to say, as against poor folks who do the hard work and get the least calories, and have much to say but can’t write. Lao Tzu said: “Those who know do not speak; those who speak do not know”.

“writers and artists of integrity are most often found outside looking in armed with their criticism … for that’s where the revolution happens.”

From: stabroeknews.com/2015/opinion/letters/08/01/writing-always-has-a-reason/

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Writers or Performers?

“In my first 15 or 20 years of authorship, I was almost never asked to give a speech or an interview. The written work was supposed to speak for itself, and to sell itself, sometimes even without the author’s photograph on the back flap.” –John Updike, The End of Authorship

A publishing contract is now more than an invitation to write. It is also a request for performance. The author becomes, as John Updike puts it in The End of Authorship, a “walking, talking advertisement for the book”. The very year the American novelist gave this speech in Washington, a publisher told me in passing: “Of course, we’ll fly you to the festivals, get you reading at shops and libraries.” Of course. One does not simply have talent, which Flannery O’Connor insisted was vital for a literary vocation. Now one is a talent: an artful player, with all the ambiguity of each word.

My point is not that there is anything necessarily vicious or vulgar about performance, or that we have lost a literary golden age: from enlightened literacy to primitive orality. The Romans regularly held public performances, in which poets tested their verse in a public laboratory. (Or lavatory. “You read to me as I shit,” complained first-century poet Martial in his Epigrams.) Pliny the Younger lamented that his listeners did not obey audience etiquette: “two or three clever persons … listened to it like deaf mutes.” Greek philosophy itself began with public performance; with the need to grab interest along with intellect. Put simply, we are not the first era to ask writers to tap-dance, and this request does not automatically corrupt literature.”

Read More: smh.com.au/entertainment/meet-the-author-why-writing-is-no-longer-just-about-the-words-20150512-ggywy3.html

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Writers Have a Huge Responsibility

“Literature matters. […]

It’s like this. When you read, you are involved in a private transaction between, on the one hand, you, and on the other, the book and the person standing behind the book, the author.

The act of reading brings two separate energies together. One is the text which is made by the writer, and other is your personality into which the text is imported. Reading merges you and the text together and once that union has been effected it can never be undone. The two are meshed.

And the reason I lay such stress on this process is that the act of taking words off the page and bringing them into your psyche will necessarily change you for ever because every time you read, you see, the words you ingest get added in or on to your personality, so when you finish a text you are not the same person that you were when you started.

This means writers have a huge responsibility because, quite literally, albeit incrementally, the things they write, once they’re read, change the character of their readers, for ever.”

From: irishtimes.com/culture/books/carlo-g%C3%A9bler-writing-matters-so-it-should-be-venerated-not-devalued-1.2145883

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Striving for Immortality

“Writers live lives of curious contradiction. Their work succeeds only by means of a monastic interiority and lonesomeness, and yet they yearn for that work to deliver them the very things most likely to murder it: whole continents of fans, invitations to claim and cash fantastical checks. They’ve heard the warning that says celebrity is one of the toxins which contributes to a writer’s artistic contamination, but they can’t help themselves—writers spend lots of time being overlooked, and thus lots of time fantasizing about the opposite predicament. There’s no such thing as a writer who yearns to be ignored.”

“The potent brand of immortality that was possible for Wordsworth, Keats, and Austen is no longer possible, and for myriad reasons, chief of which is the basement-level regard we now have for serious writers—the world doesn’t care about literature the way it did when those three were undergoing their immortalization. Our new Keats is Steve Jobs or someone like him. The cultural emphasis has shifted from one incarnation of creative brilliance to another.”

“[…] today our fissional culture has obliterated consensus—most readers now appear beguiled by what genuinely constitutes a good book, and so they fall back upon that least accurate mode of assessment: personal taste, relatability, identity confirmation. The criterion by which to judge any book must be the sentences: Do they work, are they imbued with torque and verve, do they have something permanent to say about a human circus both shining and absurd? Publishing is a business in which writers of ironclad intelligence and integrity must watch in paralysis as third-rate books are lavishly rewarded and celebrated, and so those writers cheer themselves up by imagining that their laurels will arrive after their deaths, when society finally gets wise and realizes the injustices it heaped upon genius.”

From, and read more: newrepublic.com/article/121197/writing-literary-immortality-writers-want-fans-who-last-forever

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Writing, a Solitary Voyage Through the Universe

“The reader may laugh, but for us writers, writing is every time a mad, exciting business, a voyage in a tiny craft on the high seas, a solitary flight through the universe. While one seeks to choose the single word among three that present themselves, at the same time struggling to hold the feeling and tone of the whole sentence he is constructing — while forging the sentence into the selected structure and tightening the bolts of the edifice, he strives at the same time to keep in mind the tone and proportion of the whole book; that is an exciting activity.

I know from personal experience only a single other activity that has a similar tension and concentration; that is, painting. There it is the same: to blend each individual color with its neighboring color properly and carefully is pleasant and easy, one can learn to do it and then practice it at any time. Over and beyond that, however, to have really before one’s mind the as yet unpainted and invisible parts of the whole picture and to take them into account, to experience the whole fine network of intersecting vibrations, that is astonishingly difficult and seldom succeeds.”

Hermann Hesse, A Patient at a Spa

See also: The Sorrows of a Young Writer https://spywriter.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/the-sorrows-of-a-youngish-writer/

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Writing is more than Craftsmaship

“Literature is language — the tongue is an extension of a man’s deepest feelings, his very soul. Not every person who speaks, however, is a writer or artist because language is not automatically literature. Literature is art that uses language as its basic tool and the writer is a skilled user of language. Writing, like all other art forms, is a craft that is learned in school, through constant practice. The apprentice craftsman learns how to fashion sentences, paragraphs, the stories, novels, essays, and poetry even. He learns grammar, punctuation, the precise meaning of words, and their meaning. He learns how to produce tension, how to be clear if precision is required, and how to be obtuse if obfuscation is demanded of him. He knows brevity or long-windedness. He writes to communicate, to arouse love or hate. He also knows his writing will most probably survive if he is good enough. Indeed, literature is the noblest of the arts.”

“To achieve art the writer knows he has to be more than a craftsman. He must now be creative, imaginative, original and profound, all these cannot be taught — these virtues he must search in himself. He will surely find them if he strives hard enough, if he goes deep down to his very core and finds it there … because artists are rare creatures; they are born, not made.”

From: m.philstar.com/366247/show/ed251572d567c9c2c506cd8110150bff/?

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Violent Obsessions of the Literary Kind

“Violent obsessions sometimes lay hold of a man: he may, for instance, think day and night of nothing but the moon. I have such a moon. Day and night I am held in the grip of one besetting thought, to write, write, write! Hardly have I finished one book than something urges me to write another, and then a third, and then a fourth—I write ceaselessly. I am, as it were, on a treadmill. I hurry for ever from one story to another, and can’t help myself. […]

As soon as I stop working I rush off to the theatre or go fishing, in the hope that I may find oblivion there, but no! Some new subject for a story is sure to come rolling through my brain like an iron cannonball. I hear my desk calling, and have to go back to it and begin to write, write, write, once more. And so it goes for everlasting. I cannot escape myself, though I feel that I am consuming my life.”

Anton Chekhov, The Seagull

See also: The Sorrows of a Young Writer

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