Saturday, February 01, 2014

Double Blind

“Freedom of speech is not just the freedom of writers to write. It’s also the freedom of readers to read.”
                        ~ Salman Rushdie

Fortunate is the writer who has managed to wipe clean the screen of their imagination, so that when they sit down to work, they are guided only by insight & impulse. Conversely, the reader who opens each new book in the spirit of trust & patience is equally being guided by the same good faith, in the hope for all that becomes possible when two imaginations intertwine.

How direct of an impact does the expectation of a reader have upon the direction of a writer’s imagination? Is it possible to create an original manuscript with no sensitivity for what those who intend to read the book expect from the characters we introduce them to? How difficult it can be to remain loyal to the direction the imagination sends the pen, when there is competition from the expectation of a readership who crave emotional satisfactions.

In those instances, when the narrative is taken into dark corners & all of the freedom & graceful individuality we have bestown our characters is challenged in the headwaters of conflict, we are challenging our reader, as well. How do we manage to engineer conflict so that it not only meets the nuances of an unfolding storyline but also the values of those who invest their time in experiencing the work we have laboured to share?

This is an intimate balance—veering too far-off in either direction can result in irrelevance or alienation. Not traveling far enough can diminish that sacred connection between author & reader. It all traces back to that quiet trust the reader has expressed in choosing this particular novel, amongst the myriad of others. The hope that by sharing the experience of reading our work, we might reveal to them something which expands upon what-is-already-known; it is their investment in our vision which enables this transference.

{Artwork by Lilliana Pereira}


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Vulnerabilities of Invention — Writer as Snitch

Truth comes with a price. This can be extracted on a personal level, where the speaker is put into a position whereby they must face consequences for detailing this version of how they see things. Other times the cost for frank disclosure is social. When a writer chooses to reveal details & secrets of a specific elite circle, they will often face ostracization & renunciation. In either instance, the writer who chooses to speak plainly & freely must be driven by a compulsion which discounts consequence —they simply must set the record straight.

One option for an intelligent & thoughtful artist is to detail their version of intellectual reality clothed in allegory. Behind a veneer of concocted circumstance, one story tells another in all that it refers to. Perhaps it is a sense of safety & optimism the writer feels in keeping actual intention buried beneath a superficial refraction?Might this enable to process?

It is no small feat to secure a critical viewpoint, then demand imagination graft these impressions onto something which alludes & suggests. The imperative for truth runs great risk in being over-shadowed by details of allegory & when this happens, the message is either buried beneath the fallacious or warped in a faulty translation of intended interpretation; the impact of message is lost in an exchange of competing paradigms.

Authority which wishes to suppress, which wishes to contain the inner workings of a political landscape has reason to fear the writer who quests to reveal impressions of suppressed fact. It is the result of a particular strain of courage that these truths are shared to a larger public & the expectation for consequence following unwanted disclosure is logical.

Is imagination impacted by the threat from prevailing authority when it begins to assemble the vehicle for a story which contains shaming secrets & potential disgrace? Either curtailed or ennobled: how deeply can the writer’s imagination be influenced by what might happen should certain facts be exposed?

Generating beneath a threat of isolation, can the imagination reasonably be expected to not only remain lucid in disclosing a version of truth, but manage to accomplish this in a progressive manner? What of the writer's ego? Is this inflated by purpose? A self-evident interpretation has no other fate than to enter into the public light. Fear is apt to make a writer’s words shrill & brisk. Is it possible to anticipate an ennobling of imagination, provided the motivating force behind disclosure is one of hopeful progression?

There is a common beauty in the language of shared vision—of a world that is framed by inclusive insight, guided by a reasonable desire to enhance. The imagination responsive to a writer’s version of fact, guided by justice & a glory of altruism, incubates the potential to create a shift, whether personal or social. Can there be any greater reward for risking the voice of delicate truth?

{Artwork by Tomasz Alen Kopera}


Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Elegance of Compassion

As writers trying our utmost to master technical aspects of a craft—those skills of endurance & refinement which lead to the steady progression of a coherent manuscript—when dusting off the proverbial writer's toolbox, we often focus on the logical & linear. As primary vehicle, it becomes tempting to concentrate solely upon scenes of unfolding narrative & how characters move through time & space—the mechanical units of writing. If the through-line for action is clear, we reason, the reader will stay connected.

Yet in the exchange of storytelling, it is the empathic connection our readers feel towards the characters depicted which dictates the opportunity for overall success in our effort. It is through the reader's imagination that challenges & conflicts are played-out; it is through shared understanding we resolve dilemmas together.

Rising above all other modes of impact we hope to affect upon a reader, the opportunity for healing is perhaps the most beautiful. The chance to re-tell stories of humiliation & gross injustice is a fertile place for the ardent writer to deepen a possibility for redemption or vindication. Life is swift & occasionally brutal, yet in literature we can re-visit what has been painful & through careful re-enactment of the variables which intersected to battle for dominance & the balance of authority, we are able to expand impetus in a manner which points to a broader hope of understanding. In this landscape, we are afforded the opportunity to enrich insight into both the dark & redemptive aspects of the human spirit.

In the re-telling of painful experience, whether autobiographical of perhaps what has been witnessed, a writer is offered an opportunity of protecting the currents of empathic understanding which detail how such tyranny came into manifestation. It is only when both protagonist & that dialectical antagonist have been carefully drawn to provide insight into how or perhaps more importantly why people behave as they do.

Trauma sears pain onto the heart; it is apt to cause loops of re-enactment in the mind. The writer who chooses to lovingly expand upon complex & conflicted motivation attempts to guide a reader through land mines of shame & regret. Frank exposition, guided by a writer’s antennae tuned towards redemption, offers a unique & intimate form of encouragement. The imagination coached to conceive the grace of forgiveness is more apt to permit grievance & rage an opportunity to dissolve under the dawning light of a heart measuring re-consideration.

{Painting by Max Ernst}

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fluidity of Genre

Once an aspiring writer settles upon the final genre for a nascent story, potentiality the story might manifest within becomes more defined. If it is a mystery that is being assembled, there must be motivation & suspicions woven into the body. In order to accomplish this expansion effectively & with any hope of engaging a bright reader, it is important to understand the specifications of genre. Through understanding central characteristics which define any given literary category, the writer is able to cast imagination into a framework, if only to later re-define what has conventionally pertained to that classification.

Research is an individual choice. Some writers will read exhaustive amounts to familiarize themselves with countless examples of what they are endeavouring to create; they scope what has been defined by other successful writers. Conversely, some writers will work from the barest understanding, trusting the purity of the vacuum to guide all progress. The classical position favours the former approach, for it is by creative saturation that the original emerges, yet from either side of the dialectic, there must be a vague familiarity of themes & characteristic which define the chosen environment.

Personally, but also for the purpose of exploration, I favour the classical position. It not only accords respect to the body of work which combines to define a given genre of literature, it offers a myriad of potential riffs on what has already been so artfully established. We will all have our own preference.

There is a certain amount of detective work involved when establishing the approach to genre & the imagination is offered a host of potential varieties when designing subjective application. The genesis for any idea is often sudden & gestation for this original kernel of inspiration may either be brief or prolonged through an extended period of development. Within this incubation period, when the framework for a story is being assembled, possibility is the predominant variable. It is through the extension of potentiality that a story acquires the complexity of layers. Original inspiration rarely remains pristine — it is cross-sectioned, grafted & woven into fresh inspiration. This is the imagination spinning the intricacies of nuance & landscape.

Rhythm must be determined through influence. Arguably, the greater a familiarity with available options for capturing the essence genre, the greater the chance for compelling complexity. The world in which our story is to occur needs to be clear in the writer’s mind & as landscape unfolds, clues pertaining to fresh direction begin to emerge. Writing here, within the post-modern, digital environment often permits creative synthesis of various genres — hybrid worlds containing elements from seemingly incongruous forms are not uncommon to discover.

In creating fresh interpretation of well-known & frequently explored landscapes, the imagination is free to incorporate as it needs, so long as the story remains lucid & the generalized understanding of tone & theme sustain. There is something remarkable, something beautiful & daring in the intersection of pronounced influence. The writer who weaves & wraps a fresh approach around their unfolding work is creating from a potent position of entropic mystery.

The greater the assimilation of each influence into the cognitive readability of a manuscript, the greater the chance of the writer assisting in the expansion of the genre they have chosen to work within. It is the pioneering spirit, spurred by a desire to refine the conventional.

{Artwork by Rene Magritte}