I’m doing something totally different today. This afternoon I had a conversation with a fellow writer and poet. We often have philosophical discussions, and this was no exception. I’d like to recreate a small portion of our talk.
Meena: In my little “boxed” way of thinking:
1. Photographers are seekers, first and foremost
2. Graphic artists are messengers
3. Composers are messengers
4. Singers are channels
5. Actors are mirrors
Me: Yep, I agree about actors. Are writers the interpreters?
Meena: 6. Writers, in my mind, are all of the above
7. Philosophers are interpreters
Me: Ah, okay, I can go along with philosophers. So, let me spell this out differently–
Writers are the philosophers who seek, through pictures, to channel messages and hold up mirrors to their readers, so that interpretations of reality can be seen and appreciated, and a future can be built upon that foundation.
Poetry is the perfect medium in its own way. It’s short, lyrical in form and presents a message, philosophical in method and presentation, and gives the reader an entire picture, however short. And there is music in the cadence and rhythm of the lines that bring home the message.
Meena: I like it. That should be your blog post. I think of ghost writers, for example…
Me: I think on some level it is true. Even the most out-there writers, like early King or Koontz, write about people’s fears and what they’re based on. They give an opportunity to imagine the lengths to which those fears can go. I think ghost writers are even truer for the example. They channel so much of their client, the messages they gained while working with that individual, and so on. They may be only reflecting the philosophy of the client, but the wording, phraseology is their own, which makes or breaks the philosophy.
Meena: I suppose as writers we go “I have something to say”… that something is definitely inspired somehow. Poetry is the most compact package as far as writing goes. It also asks a lot of the readers.
Me: Which is what all messages do.
Meena: I mean… it is a push off a cliff compared to the steady rise of a roller coaster before it crashes down. Longer writing is more like the amusement park ride… a longer experience.. requires different elements to sustain it.
Me: But, in truth, the message itself in the longer piece is buried within all the fluff, description, and other plotting elements. The message is tiny and easily contained in one sentence.
Meena: Not always…. that is the skill of the writer
Me: That’s true, but the essential message can be as simple as, “falling for the wrong person can screw up the rest of your life.” The message is only the seed that becomes the tropical flower amid the jungle.
Meena: That may be the surface message… from that line I already anticipate a lesson on regret, second chances. Choices.
Me: Or on salvation, according to the interpretation done by the philosopher.
Meena: exactly… to me all of that is the message… not the one sentence plot headline
Me: Ah, so we have a difference in definition. Isn’t that always the way? One has to define the emphasis of the message before deciding on the interpretation.
And so the discussion continues at a later date. The question to be answered is whether the roles played by the writer do take on the jobs of photographer, designer, composer, etc., and whether definition of the message can only come after its emphasis has been determined.
Everyone who works with words, in whatever capacity, has an opinion on this question. I’m asking all readers to chime in on this issue.
Does the emphasis of the message determine the definition of that message within the text one writes? Also, does the writer wear all the hats described?
Tell me what you think about this. Let me know if you agree, disagree, or wish to remain anonymous.
Have a great week, all. A bientot,
PS: Tomorrow, I will be having an interview with Walt Wojtanik, writer and poet. Be sure to drop by and see what he has to say about verse, choices, and futures.
- Hume and Wittgenstein (manwithoutqualities.com)
- Beyond Good and Evil (marmysz.wordpress.com)
- You are a Writer: So Start Acting Like One by Jeff Goins (Book Review) Reviewed by Tammy (iwokeupyesterday.com)
- Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: Emmeline B. Wells on Young Writers (motleyvision.org)
Writers are strange creatures. We wander around our world, a love and hate relationship with that thing we do called writing. Beneath all the setbacks, the frustrations, and the seemingly endless revisions, we cannot quit being writers.
Dream leads to storylines. Storylines pulse through us until we cannot stand the beat any longer and we must DO something with them. It doesn’t matter if we believe they’re good, fully functioning ideas with potential for greatness. What matters is that we thought of them, felt a sharp pricking sensation when they flashed through our minds, and they whispered to us.
This relationship we have with our writing fluctuates with the events and daily routines of our other lives; our lives outside of sitting at the keyboard and communing with the inside of our heads and the movies playing there. It flutters as butterfly wings on the verge of take-off; delicate in form and newness, steel-strong in carrying power. It surges as tides of vibrant, sometimes stereophonic, images that wash over the outward reality of the moment, escorting us to places beyond, among those who don’t frequent our neighborhood.
Dramas vie with sweet romance, which oft-times takes a detour through the war zones of our world to pause amid the childlike wonder created by harpies that fill the skies with black ragged wings and voices ready to pierce metal armor, while children stand ready to protect the innocent from harm.
Along the way, laughter bursts forth from words penned by housewives who profess a lack of understanding as to why the world operates as it does, who keep asking for logic, knowing that human machinations has little of that commodity. Music may soothe the savage breast, but words linger within our spirits, to uplift or depress according to their emotional impact. That is the power of what we do.
Uneasiness with influence and power may hold us static for a time. Fear may prevent us from exhibiting our writing wares as often as we’d dreamed, but it cannot prevent our words from finding release. Like life, writers will always find a way.
Photographers know the plight of the writer. Seeing an incredible sunset and not having a camera in hand, is worse than having a fantastic idea for a story or article—far worse. The photographer can only stand and admire the gift of God’s colors and design while it lasts. When twilight rules, it is gone forever. It cannot be recreated as it was. The writer carries her camera of ideas within her head. Recreating them, while not always simple, is doable.
Musicians straddle that fence of creativity between photographers and writers. They paint their images with musical notes. Like writers there is no physical image involved. The musician’s frustrations are like the writers’ when notes won’t come together as conceived or when concern erupts that patterns of notes are as another composer’s previous music. That concern reflects on a writer’s work as well.
Creative design work, regardless of type, generates that love/hate dynamic within the artist. An artist is what a person is, not what she chooses to be. Non-artists can do the work. That’s true. Non-artists can also put it away and never touch it again.
Regardless of how deep the chasm between our love of what do and our dissatisfaction with it, we keep returning to the keyboard, the pad of paper, the piano or guitar, the camera or the carving tools. Painters, in water or oil, acrylics or pastels, must find release.
There is no craving for us. There is only a need to release what is fomenting inside us, within our minds. To deny that surge of creative energy is to deny ourselves.
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