Tag Archives: Writing

Read to Tell Better Stories

“Stories can be a way for humans to feel that we have control over the world. They allow people to see patterns where there is chaos, meaning where there is randomness. Humans are inclined to see narratives where there are none because it can afford meaning to our lives—a form of existential problem-solving. In a 1944 study conducted by Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel at Smith College, 34 college students were shown a short film in which two triangles and a circle moved across the screen and a rectangle remained stationary on one side of the screen. When asked what they saw, 33 of the 34 students anthropomorphized the shapes and created a narrative: The circle was “worried,” the “little triangle” was an “innocent young thing,” the big triangle was “blinded by rage and frustration.” Only one student recorded that all he saw were geometric shapes on a screen.”

“The more stories you read, the better you’ll be at telling your own story. Chances are, you’ll also become a bit better at filtering the noise of the world and understanding it for yourself. It might sound like a stretch, but the better you are at telling your own story, the more persuasive and interesting you’ll be to others.”

From: lifehacker.com/how-reading-fiction-can-help-you-live-a-better-life-1666696457

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The Price of Literary Glamour and Glitz

Glamour and glitz of literary festivals comes with a price, “And the most expensive item on the bill is the transformation of writers into performers, authors into salesmen. […] For them it is promote or perish. Writers these days have to have their own websites, be active on Facebook, send off tweets every few hours and generally be as visible as possible. Lest the reader forgets him and goes off with whoever is grabbing their attention at that moment.

However

, “The best expression of a writer’s thoughts has to be in his writings, not in his spoken words. That is why he or she has chosen the lonely, uncertain life of a writer.”

We readers too can be like them, by opting to walk the solitary path of reading. If we are content to judge authors by their works and not their personalities, if we are ready to put substance over style, then Lit Fests would lose their relevance. Honestly, how can something as intimate as a novel be turned into a successful live event?

From: firstpost.com/living/literary-festivals-are-anti-reading-why-lit-fests-are-for-performers-not-writers-2542596.html

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Who, if not Writers?

“Literature, whether prose or poetry, as a record, or history, not only of individual’s lives but also of collective’s lives ~ indeed of society’s life. For what purpose would Literature serve if not as a mirror of our reality both at the individual and collective levels? So, while it is soul-satisfying to write and read about the twinkling of stars as well as gushing and gurgling streams by verdant hills, for me it is more imperative that we also write about peace, harmony, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity amongst the human race. Indeed, it is very imperative […] that we write about freedom ~ freedom to think, to feel, to ideate, to write and to read and these freedoms can become a reality only when we create and nurture the atmosphere and environment for them to germinate. So then, we must write about poverty, hunger, mal-nutrition, diseases, injustice, corruption and all the other ills that beset our society and […] sink us in the quick sands of mediocrity.”

“If writers do not double up as activists too, who will change our society and state? Who will create the need and the urge in our people to destroy the status quo and usher in change that would bring out the best in our culture and traditions, and indeed in us? This requires that writers and poets climb down from Ivory Towers and see and feel the real world we live in. This requires that we do not romanticize ourselves, our cultures, our traditions, our society and our state. This further requires that we do not look at Literature as a means to gain popularity, to make a name and to make money, and I know it is hard to ward off the temptations social media offers in today’s technologically-dominated world. But at the same time, it is now imperative that we use social media to disseminate our message. And perhaps less of the messenger?”

FROM: morungexpress.com/creating-change/

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Writers Help Us Grow as People

Literature mirrors “the challenges of societal integrity, cultural sovereignty and the dilemma of self-awareness and self-confidence in us as a people.”

[…] “not only should we read books written by our writers for our people, we should see them while they are alive, touch them and feel them, connect with their humanity from which spring their acute sense of self-awareness, purpose and the dilemmas of reality, which writers are so endowed with.” […]

“Our writers should regularly be invited into our schools, talk to students, share their works and thoughts with them and let our youth grow up knowing their writers who so much influence their thoughts”.

From: graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/53006-writers-must-interact-with-students-prez-mahama.html

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Role of Life’s Experiences in the Creative Process

“Spontaneity, freshness, courage and a thousand other advantages inherent to youth [are] conducive” to creativity. However, “maturity and experience — the world accumulated and assimilated in the author’s mind — allow him to convey human problems from a truly universal perspective. The writer in his adulthood, freed from the inseparable emotional interference of youth, with its naive drive to over-analyze experiences, desires, and frustrations, finds himself in the optimal position to blend personal elements with those of others’, be they taken from reality, or existing literature, absorbing them into his own 
writing, and widening his understanding of the creative act of penetrating the complexity of human mystery — the only and true object of the artistry of the novel.”

Vicente Lenero, The Code (my rush translation).

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Literature as a Weapon

“Words matter. A society’s books and movies impact the world. Books, in particular were often internationally influential during the Cold War. …

The CIA funded the production and distribution of individual literary projects. …

Eric Bennett, a professor of English at Providence College and author of the forthcoming Workshops of Empire: Stegner, Engle and American Creative Writing During the Cold War, wrote that the CIA’s efforts produced lasting and potentially damaging effects.

According to Bennett, the CIA and other conservative organizations actually infiltrated the United States’ leading writing programs and literary journals. The goal was to establish an American literary tradition that would “venerate and fortify the particular, the individual, the situated, the embedded, the irreducible.”

That literary voice would be an alternative to the Soviet Union’s socialist realism — and its selfless heroes sacrificing themselves for good of the revolution.

Soon after Pres. Harry Truman founded the CIA with the National Security Act of 1947, the agency began focusing on the arts.”

From, and continue reading on the CIA role in shaping American literature: isnblog.ethz.ch/intelligence/the-cia-battled-the-kremlin-with-books-and-movies-2

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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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Morally Impoverished American Literature

“Everything is contained in the American novel except ideas,” Philip Rahv wrote exasperatedly in 1940, just as the European novel achieved, in the hands of Musil and Mann, its intellectual apotheosis. Obsessed with private experience, American writers, Rahv charged, were uniquely indifferent “to ideas generally, to theories of value, to the wit of the speculative and problematical.”

Why was it, he wondered, that Dostoyevsky “appears to possess degrees of passion, conviction and engagement with deep moral issues that we — here, today — cannot or do not permit ourselves”? Compared with the Russians, Wallace lamented, “the novelists of our own place and time look so thematically shallow and lightweight, so morally impoverished.”

We must grant Wallace at least part of his complaint. America’s postwar creative-writing industry hindered literature from its customary reckoning with the acute problems of the modern epoch. It boosted instead a cult of private experience and what Nietzsche identified as the style of “literary decadence,” in which “the word becomes sovereign and leaps out of the sentence, the sentence reaches out and obscures the meaning of the page, and the page comes to life at the expense of the whole.”

From: nytimes.com/2015/09/20/books/review/whatever-happened-to-the-novel-of-ideas.html?_r=0&referrer=

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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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