affirmed or informed

There is a notion that most people want to be affirmed rather than informed. When they select their news outlets or their entertainments or their faiths, they choose those that affirm what they already believe (or want to believe) rather than choose those that would challenge (inform) them. That’s not true about you, of course, but it may be true about me in a small way.

From that rich vein of insight, otherwise known as Pete Lit, I found a link to an essay that really struck a chord with me. The post, on the Powell’s Books blog, discusses the well intended but generally insipid advice non-writers give aspiring writhers. It’s called “On Advice Given to Writers,” and I think I like it because it affirms much of what I think is true about writing and creativity.

The essay speaks some of the importance of persistence, which is self evident to just about everyone who tries to make a success of this kind of thing (success being defined however one wants). But the author, Sadie Jones, spends most of her words on the notion of an aspiring writer finding his/her “voice.” I guess I’ve found her observations to be true. There are certain writers who are known by their styles. They have a consistency of style that, I think, Jones is suggesting may not always be a good thing, at least for her.

I recognize certain patterns in my writing: sentence fragments, one-word punches, parallel structures for emphasis. I suppose that could be called my voice, but if it is, it’s not something I pursue intentionally or even consciously. I just try to keep up with the words as they flow into my head.

Which leads to another affirmation I found in her essay. She speaks of the sense that stories exist “out there” and our job is to get them down. I’m sure she doesn’t mean that literally, but she says “the world of the story exists effortlessly somewhere and I must . . . find it.” Certainly these Fathers and Sons stories of mind seem to be coming from some existing world that I’m allowed glimpses of. Not literally, of course, but in terms of the creation it sure feels that way.

And what I think is the best line in the essay repeats what I’ve believed about myself all along. “Creation ought to be mysterious.” I don’t want to know too much about my creative process. I fear that if I am conscious of it, I will be self conscious about it. It won’t flow because I’ll be too busy watching and analyzing it.

So there you go; my daily affirmations.

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2 Comments on “affirmed or informed”

  1. Pete Says:

    I prefer those writers with a consistent voice, instead of those who hop from style to style. (The latter seem to be unfocused, showing off their supposed dazzling versatility, or both.)

    And thanks for being my blog’s most faithful reader and commenter. I’m glad someone is still listening.

  2. Averil Dean Says:

    I’m nervous about the mysterious nature of creativity. I want it to be solid, workable, so that when I decide to write something I can damn well sit down and write it.

    Of course, creativity is nothing like that. But I’ll never stop trying to pin it down.


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