Why Are You a Writer?

cave art La_Pasiega-Galeria_A-Ciervas_(panel_22)
Cave art from La Pasiega, in Cantabria, Spain; Author: Hugo Obermaier, 1913. This work is in the public domain.

 

The human effort to leave a record may be seen in cave art dating back 40,000 years.  What prompted these impulses?  Were early humans teaching a lesson?  Leaving a message?  Were they expressing devotion to a deity or satisfying an inchoate desire for self-fulfillment?  Unknowable as the answers to these questions are, so too, for many of us, is the answer to the question, “Why are you a writer?”

Writing is certainly not the most dependable way to earn money.  And it is a career that carries with it the risk of severe, personal criticism.  So, why write?

I have been writing since I was a child.  For me, writing is a way to communicate.  There are other paths to communication–music, art and dance, for example.  Sadly these avenues are not open to me.  Though I express myself with joy through many art forms, I don’t communicate well through them.  They remain my private pleasures.  Words, however, are malleable in my hands.  I mold them, sometimes nimbly, until they convey my intentions in a way that others can understand.  That’s communication.  That’s why I write.

Was I born a writer?  There’s a school of thought that holds some people are born artists and some are not.  I’ve never subscribed to this view.  Give children crayons and they color.  Read nursery rhymes to them and they respond to the cadence of words.  Creativity and art, I believe, are intrinsic to human nature.  Talents vary, as do life influences and opportunity.  The role each of these played in my choice to write–that is impossible to sort out.

I’m a writer.  I’m comfortable in the role and believe I understand the reasons for my choice.

Why are you a writer?

 

 

Advertisements

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Matteawan Station_132

In the book, Looking Back, Looking Forward, the author speaks of leaving her country home and moving to New York City.  The train station above was likely one that was the departing point for her new life; it was likely the last place she saw as headed into the future.

Looking Back, Looking Forward  was written as a demonstration book, not as a straightforward memoir, but the details in the book are all true–at least as true as memory will allow. The author of the book speaks of a kind of longing for the country home left behind. This rupture in her life took place when she was a child and had little control over her destiny.

It is obvious from the events described in the book that the author’s family left their country home for good reason.  Nonetheless, this departure was experienced as a loss and the loss is palpable throughout the book.

The picture of the train station above captures the sense of quiet solitude the author seems to miss. There is in this scene nothing of the bustle she describes of her new home in Brooklyn.

looking back cover for site
This slim volume was created as a demonstration book for the writing manual, “Ten Steps to Writing Your Memoir”. Though “Looking Back Looking Forward” was not intended to be a full-blown memoir, it has within it the inescapable emotions that recollecting any life may evoke.

Commonsense Approach to Creative Writing

manual trait 1 smash
The Image is taken from “Teacher’s Manual The Artist Inside”. This is one of the sample pictures offered to prompt creative thinking about personal traits . Students are encouraged to look beyond age, gender and race. They are asked to describe what the action in the picture suggests to them. Teachers are invited to copy sample pictures and hand these copies out as part of their lessons.

The following essay is copied from  Rhythm Prism’s writing development book,Teacher’s Manual The Artist Inside

There is a national debate about Common Core and standardized testing. However, when it comes to writing, the discussion is almost irrelevant. Whatever position may be taken on the value of Common Core and standardized testing, the goal of every writing program everywhere is the same: to develop in students the ability to express themselves logically, clearly and effectively.

The Artist Inside writing development book and the accompanying Teacher’s Manual are designed to achieve this universally acknowledged goal.

Those who wish to advance a classic writing development program will find their tradition richly respected in The Artist Inside system. Those who wish to follow guidelines of the Common Core curriculum will find those standards seamlessly incorporated into the system. The ‘gimmick’ of The Artist Inside writing development system is simply this: it is engaging.

Students are invited to use their imagination. They are guided in that use with the introduction of specific tools. Teachers are offered modalities that facilitate student use.

The goal of all language–spoken, written, signed–is to convey information. Writing may require more discipline than speech but, like speech, it becomes more fluent with practice. This is what The Artist Inside system promotes.

The first challenge in any writing program is to get students writing. Extend an invitation, not a challenge. Offer guidance, not rigid structure. With this approach, the skill will evolve, as all language does in the proper environment.