Monday, July 24, 2006

"What Thoughts Lurk in the Minds of Writers?"

By P.M. “Peggy” Woods

For the past few weeks I have been nothing but a lurker. I have been logging onto this blog, and reading what everyone has posted without contributing anything myself.

I am amazed by the range of writing that has accumulated over a few weeks-poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, etc. I am amazed by what can be conveyed--the emotions, the images--in such a short space. I am also amazed by the range of writers contributing-from people who write for a living to people who have devoted a large part of their lives to a completely different profession.

What is amazing to me is that all of these writers, writers who are writing all kinds of things, are all collected together into one space.

So what does this mean? What does this mean about writing?

These questions may seem odd. Does posting on a blog have to mean anything? But my lurking on this blog has begun to raise questions for me about writing and about writers. (Okay, I must confess, not only am I a lurker, but I'm also fascinated by the writing process, and the whole subject of writing.)

As I read through all these postings I wonder what compels people to write? What compels someone to take the time to put into words something they have seen? Something they have felt? Something they have experienced? What compels someone to re-live an experience in words?

There could be many answers to these questions. There also could be many different ways to answer these questions. But what makes us writers? What makes us want to write down in words what we see, what we feel?Any thoughts?? We would love to hear from you. Just click on COMMENTS below!

Peggy Woods lives in Shutesbury, MA. She is the Assistant Director of the Writing Program at UMass Amherst. Her first novel, Spinning Will is forthcoming in March, 2007, from Swank Books.

6 comments:

johanna said...

Peggy,
Very much enjoyed your words. It makes me feel like I'm part of a very special community. A community of writers..... In the community of humankind.
Thank You!
Nancy
('Johanna')

david seth michaels said...

"I forgot to ask you when you were leaving," Marley begins. "But would you please go to the bookstore for me?"

Bardo is delighted to get this call. "Now I'm going to discuss world literature while I sit in traffic," he thinks. "What could be more Southern California? For that matter, what could be more desde Desdemona?"

Marley he immediately reveals, wants to be inspired. And he is adamant that he wants no more books that are lectures masquerading as novels or stories. No. The book must be what Marley calls "real fiction." Not polemic posing as fiction. Not self help posing as fiction. The author should be Caribbean or South American or, if absolutely necessary, perhaps North American. There must absolutely be inspiration in the book. There must be what Marley calls "soul" in the book. The description goes on and on, about how characters should have ideas, an that narration should be interesting, but nothing is concrete. And Marley is asking for nothing specific. He continualy alludes to the idea that literature is supposed to save civilization, that it is revolutionary in that sense.


"I have no idea of what will meet this request," Bardo says. "You got anyting more precise."

"Man I have been telling you precisely for the last ten minutes. What do you think I have been talking about? You need me to go on even further?"

"You want me to write it or just go to the bookstore?" Bardo laughs.

"Man everybody on this island is already writing something. All the people here are writing all the time, but where is it? They are sitting at laptops, eating fruits, going on and on, meeting with each other, dreaming it up, talking to themselves, but where is it? The major industry is...unpublished, unpublishable books. Now you say you're going to write one too. This is not good. I told you what I want. It should be in the stores already. Please, just go there, find it and get it for me. I'll pay you back."
The Dream Antilles, pp. 134-135.

So there you have it. It should be in the bookstores already, but it isn't. Not yet. And we all know how it's supposed to get there. Thanks so very much for asking.

ClaudiaR said...

I love the way this piece of fiction addresses the issues. Lovely excerpt. And so, why do we write? To save ourselves perhaps? To have something to hold onto in the dark? I write to make sense of my world in language. It deeply calms my mind. Writing keeps me "on course." I love the "revolutionary" notion raised here, that literature can save civilization. Can it? If it helps to open one heart to the experience of an "other," perhaps. I see great possibilities emerging from the frenzy of people writing, and reading, here, on the internet. Maybe, though, I am just an optimist.

Steven Demorez said...

literature as revolution: the two most purchased and published books in the world are the communist manifesto and the holy bible...
maybe we all write because throwing bricks through windows has ceased to be responsive enough while words can scream infinitely longer than we can. That's what I personally feel, the written word stands in place of the actual object (if any such thing exists) and as an ideal evokes all the associations attached to an object. To say dark evokes more than just a wanting of light but in true Taoist fashion reminds us of light and opposites. I write to make sense of the collective hallucination that is "reality," it allows for the inner schizophrenic to have his dance without cause for alarm.
The internet is as liberating as we choose to use it, it's beginning at this point to mirror our "real world" in so many ways and our view of consciousness has evolved as the internet has taken on a much more fluid shape. Literature, Art, Film, Music has all started to be both born and distributed through this medium which makes the cultural value of one writer equal to any other based solely on skill now and not "appeal"
It's liberating, no identity, no "margins" only the streaming electron and the writer.

-SD

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