Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

“It’s not how well you write, but how you feel when you write.”
-My Mother-
First, let me say I dare not touch nor even begin to discuss the fact that my dear mother was the one who created the quote above. I have tried to tell her for years she is smart/creative, just in her own way and well the proof is above. But, I digress…

In my humble opinion, the quote above speaks volumes to not only the writer, but to the reader in all of us as well. Often there is a misconception that writers are at their best soon after they experience an event that is traumatic, heart breaking, or life altering to the point where we are “sad”. We enjoy poetry, stories, screen plays, etc, which touch on very sensitive subjects, which are certainly born from heart wrenching experiences. And we assume at times that these powerful episodes lead directly to the creation of art. I tend to believe this is the exception not the rule.

I can picture it now, a young woman who is also an avid writer, recently discovers that her boyfriend is sleeping with her best friend. She runs to her sanctity, her laptop, and begins to let loose on the keyboard one of the best poems she has ever written. It contains vivid images of pain, anger, and confusion. The emotion is so very real because it is so very fresh. It is raw, uncensored. She looks at the screen after the poem is complete, reads, and hits the delete key. She types again, only gets half way through, and delete. Wash, rinse, and repeat until finally she gives up, hops in bed, and cries herself to sleep.

Weeks, months, and maybe even years later our same writer goes back to her laptop. A fresh idea has popped into her mind from an unexpected source of inspiration. She begins to type a poem. Its words beautifully describe a scene containing love, despair, and a phoenix rising from the ashes. Her fingers do not stop working until the final word is crafted. She scans over the poem and smiles. Born from experience, but executed with a clear, calm, and peaceful mind; she has finally created a work of art that does justice to the standards she holds ever piece too.

As writers, experience and emotion are two of the biggest tools at are our disposal. But that does not mean however that we can create when our wounds are newly fresh. Now granted, there are exceptions to any rule and well quite frankly, I could be completely wrong about this whole thing. But I think most writers would agree; we are at our best when we feel the best. A bad mood doesn’t lend itself to great writing. In fact, it is quite the opposite, it is like my mother says, “It’s not how well you write, but how you feel when you write.”


4 comments on “Pondering

  1. James,
    I think you have a valid point of view in your critique. I would add just a word of approbation from mine.

    there is, unfortunately, the ‘romantic’ image of the tortured writer, suffering the loss of all for his craft and his/her writing ‘illumined’ and somehow made ‘more worthy’ of devotion and reflection by it.
    i say ‘self exhalting hogwash’ and narcissistic tripe!
    one writes for self expression, not self exhaltation. to do otherwise reverses the point of writing to so much self promotion to adulation and may even lead to the corrupting influence of ‘consumer driven’ rather than expression driven writing. but of course, that’s my own opinion.

    • jmd5717 says:

      I very much agree with your added critique. It is important to maintain your integrity when writing, otherwise I believe it will be noticeable in your work. Easy to spot work that seems forced, it feels so unnatural when you read it and the picture they are tying to paint doesn’t quite come together.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Zack Hunter says:

    Well said. I am pretty sure experience is directly proportional to what makes a writer who they are and what they are capable of. And also another thing- I only write after I have had a concept brewing in my mind for a while which comes out almost involuntarily through the tap dance of the finger articulation. The principles of improvisation, like Jazz as Kerouac liked to point out, can ultimately be applied to this flow. Everything you have ever done, been, learned, and experienced comes through in those moments of performance. There also seems to be a window in our realities where these make their so-called best appearances. We have what I like to think of as a battery of creative (and sexual) energy that must be recharged after depletion into individual creations. So I believe this particular rhythm is key to understanding as you say the feeling and intentions behind a sequence of language.

    • jmd5717 says:

      The natural flow of creativity combined with our experiences sparked by a unique motivation, which in turn cause our pens to “dance” is something that is truly remarkable.

      You never force words to develop as you say, they must flow. It seems to me this natural flow occurs differently and oddly enough the same for writers. Often readers misunderstand this flow, so to me it is important to get inside the minds of those readers, which in the end I think will only make us better writers.

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