Saturday, December 14, 2013

Combing the Tangles of Legacy

The act of writing, specifically the linear, logical sequence of flowing written words, this trail of language has within its very nature the potential to be a clarifying agent. Each fictionalized individual comes down through the incorporation of a myriad of imaginary bloodlines, & within this genetic network, history & characteristic is sealed.

The writers who find within their sphere of motivation the courage to explore, then expand those constricted channels of influence, has the demanding task of both preservation & re-interpretation; the generate material that is beholden to both sacred lore and idealistic optimism.

History, whether apprehended through the libraries of vast & meticulous research or distilled through the warps & wefts of oral tradition, contains all that can be preserved. The writer striving to capture & reflect what their literary mind has deemed worthy of preservation, of amplified communication, this intention has an obligation to clarify archived events through an interpretative filter which bridges a unique co-relation to imagination.

Research & hearsay do not necessarily contain within their unique perimeters the genesis of motivation. It is tasked to the earnest writer to respectfully penetrate root causes of action, to then shape both legacy & collective understanding. Without this sympathetic access, the reader is unable to comprehend, from the emotional position, why they should incorporate a fresh interpretation of what has already transpired; the status quo sustains in the absence of clear motive.

History contains any number of individual strands of remembrance; it forms the collective body through the preservation & interpretation of those unique threads. Generating from some incendiary event, lines of questioning & of the details best extrapolating upon what has been revealed to be pertinent at that moment in time, to the point of causality, these tracks of words serve as available evidence to what actually happened. But is this reliable history? Can the imagination be trusted to assist in clarifying what is of relevance or what might only prove to be a collection of inferior incidents of incomplete motivations? How can the writer looking to understand, then re-interpret history, trust the abstract mechanics of imagination?

Consider: Oceans of courageous blood spilled upon battlefields; sacrifice shattered beneath the weight of defeat. The writer who aims to make history relatable to a contemporary reader must proceed gently & with cautious patience. These threads of recorded experience intersect at any point & with respectful attention to the burden of sympathy, these stories can be re-claimed for fresh interpretation.

Can we ever truly comprehend the conditions in which another group of people has lived? Perhaps this is impossible to determine but we can for certain be shown circumstance, environment & specific instance to glean the jist of what came before us. Through these components, the writer & reader connect within a frame work of shared imagination & within this space, exchange a common understanding. History & the records which define its perimeters, emerges to lend fresh insight into the circumstances which evolved to determine social legacy; all that has been recorded weaves the tapestry of remembrance.

{Artwork by Howard Hodgkin}

Saturday, November 23, 2013


To write with grace & accomplishment, an aspiring artist must dedicate the lens of imagination into serving as a discerning filter. Refinement of language takes great priority—the ideal word must be selected above any other; essential for communicating the nuances of symbol we strive to convey. Amplifying symbolic content involves both intuitive patience & gentle discipline. Most writers, no matter where they lie upon the arc of personal development, work hard to choreograph resonant & evocative images.

Literary time collects in layers; our characters are superimposed within these folds. In order to successfully graft a realistic, that is to say relatable, cast of characters, we must be prepared to not only understand the matrix in which we desire to place them, but also be prepared to establish an environment which is capable of sustaining this transplant. The small details matter & whether unconsciously or by deliberate act of will, we sift through imaginary worlds to select what best juxtaposes.

Yet can we wisely rely upon the arbitrary function of imagination to craft various aspects required for a credible landscape of fiction? In order to move past the fluid lyricism of an undulating imagination, writers must freeze a particular aspect, then sculpt glorious details from that model into language. Like an artist drawing the human form, we require an example to assist imagination in filling in nuance.

For writers attempting to sculpt these elegant lines of graceful, lyrical fiction,  identification of a central image serves to anchor the surrounding reality. Images which surface, then graduate to serve as these central pivots—the cohesion to which the conscious mind begins to explore beyond the hard-won details serving as access points for a reader’s imagination. This threshold is challenging to determine. Whether the writer chooses to interpret early imagery through a critical filter is certainly a matter of individual choice but in either option, the writer in possession of powerful symbolic imagery is a writer who now has something tangible to work from. With discipline & artful composition, this vocabulary leads into the next indelible scene; narrative texture begins to collect & sustain.

And so it goes—the story weaves outward & all the many hypothetical instances we apply to determine direction or relevance, find answers within this emerging world. Some of the original hunches were in check with what continues to emerge; some prove to be incongruous. This mysterious puzzle slowly reveals images & icons which collect thematically to broaden the scope of the narrative into the symbolic.

Can it be that Dr. Jung was correct when he reported his observations that within all of us, buried in the chaos of the unresolved Unconscious mind, there exists access to the archetypal? It is possible to freeze upon one of the pivotal images & begin to research historical & mythological significance of that unit. Through closer analysis, we might discover larger, more universal relevance to the work we are creating.

This type of scholarly exploration can be of use in determining continued direction. Should it? Once the activated imagination begins to sift through the archetypal, perhaps it is better to let this excavation continue intuitively, unfettered by the anxieties of a conscious mind? In taking this leap of faith, trusting the instincts we have cultivated as productive writers will not only satisfy the demands of a linear narrative, but also lead to the symbols which provide books the perspective & nuance of great writing.

Is it best to surrender imagination unlimited access? In accepting the inevitability of an overall coherence, we not only endeavour to tell a story with sophistication but we may also take steps toward greater personal awareness. In this way, our writing begins to shape a unique realism of what is possible through the mechanics of an illuminated creative mind.

{Images by Bauhaus}


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Refractions of Persona

A course of potential direction for the sincere writer of fiction is formed through a vast landscape. The activated imagination is untethered in the initial phase of contemplation & the potentiality which lies dormant is a potent & motivating force. This is an entropic world, where much of what we yearn to reveal lies buried or merely suggested. Eventually choices will have to be made to compel the story forward but languishing in all that could happen serves to motivate & suggest.

For the writer of fiction who also strives to tell some truth, the possibilities are slightly less overwhelming. What writer has not declared, at some point in the initial incubation period, that events lived within the wingspan of their own unique experience would not be ideal content for a work of fiction? We are tempted by the transcendental moments experienced within our own lives & often, this becomes a starting point for a created work.

Literary truth distills from the imagination, now focused to work between the mysterious dialectic that pits experience against fantasy. What is conducted between this polarity now serves as a through-line to the emerging narrative. We use the craftsy filter of memory—refracted back across the conscious mind, where it is positioned as action—this early movement in the story now serves to establish the world where our fiction will live. Framed by the editorial choice to relay events close as possible to experiential accuracy, we record what will hopefully engage a reader.

Yet this autobiographical landscape is limited to what will best translate into lucid prose. Sometimes, what actually happened is dull or repetitive—it will not make for engaging writing & risks becoming bogged down in personal reflection. To circumvent the trite or listless, a persona begins to emerge— a unique creation born of experience, yet filtered through an educated imagination to serve as a reliable & consistent vehicle for a story. The persona is evocative of the actual but has been customized to offer both variety & diversity not present in the memories which generated it.

Is this fresh hybrid persona the best a sincere writer can hope for when chartering autobiographical waters? The desire to mine personal experience has compelled the creation of this literary persona, born of a meeting between the actual within the imagined, yet how can we be certain how much to reveal? Can we continue to write, confident that what we have experienced ourselves is worthy of an attentive reader? Is there a chance we are being seduced by presumed glories from an untold autobiography?

Writing based upon actual experience supports a unique dynamic — the writer is being witnessed through the act of sharing their story. An inflation of the writer’s sense of self occurs & like any skilled storyteller, an engaged audience inspires & helps to direct the pace of the story. Fueled by interest, the writer bends & twists their literary reflection, gravitating toward material which will echo the sentiments harboured in self-aggrandizement.

Can we trust ego-directed reflection? Should the writer who strives for authenticity & verisimilitude loot their own bag of personal tall tales or battle scars? This is a unique brand of vulnerability, & as such, a measure of courage in the depth of disclosure is required to convey intent. From the confines of memory to the starkness of the page—a risk of self-glorification becomes yet another obstacle in conveying balanced material.

{Paintings by Karel Appel}


Monday, November 11, 2013

What If?

Someone is emerging from the sea of churning imagination; the writer’s intuition is peaked.  Could this be a character for a story? Details define slowly, all random & particular to a distinct environment which has yet to be sufficiently clarified. Still—the small actions & tiny peccadillo's which filter back to our conscious mind begin to suggest a complexity which may render this advent suitable for developing fiction.

These ghostly sketches are initially unpredictable. Once the suspicion of a creative breakthrough begins to take hold & engineer the excitement that only early discovery is capable of generating, the tendency to hone & stimulate these barely formed characters is present. In our excitement, we yearn to know more — the intricacies we suspect are attached to these barest of imagined beings, if demonstrated, will determine whether or not we have struck creative gold.

Confident they will continue to form consciously, we are advised to wait; patience is the vehicle which will serve as the mediator to our acquaintance. We might observe this nascent character in a completely private moment or we may catch a glimpse of them being somehow challenged. We observe their response & grow to understand them a little further.

If fortunate enough to retain the thread which delivers repeat encounters, we begin to permit curiosity the opportunity to lead into discovery. Is there a predominant philosophical apparatus at work which, if sufficiently identified, will open further an aperture of understanding? Conditions attached to this character start to make larger pronouncements; we discover, then catalogue what we have been shown.

Once clarified to a suitable degree of constancy for the imagination to sustain, we might begin to serve our fictional characters some conditions. It is through these questions & the hypothetical—the sober & ridiculous scenarios we project them into somewhere in the imagination allow us to rely on what we understand from the emergence of the initial hunches. We take the character & run them through a gamut of fantastic potential.

The bravery & vulnerability this character demonstrates in face of conjured instance will be of great use when determining the narrative this character will eventually exist within. This is the process of discovery which plows us into the world of letters & is best unleashed inside a network of causes & imagined consequence—this is how our characters come to the page.

In time, we learn more of who we are working with so import this new, defining character into increased specifics as defined by revealed morality & ethic. The temptation to graft & transpose what we are being shown on the activated screen of imagination, with what has been stored in unique, ambitious warehouses of memory, might ideally be minimized—it is patient observation which will guarantee a more complex genesis. Left to its own methods, the imagination will reveal all details required for the assembly of a world for the notional to grow & experience.

As writers we provoke & test; integrate & blend.

[Images by Ekaterina Panikanova}


Sunday, November 03, 2013

Grafting Redemption

Each one of us, in unique & challenging fashions, struggles to develop through adversity. Social circumstance, neurosis, inherited compulsion & existential penchant combine in morphic conjunction to serve as obstacles along a path to self-actualization. This is the harsh realism to experience & we are, each one of us, expected to not only identify any & all vexing conditions which arrest this growth, but to then engineer strategies to overcome & triumph.

How is it possible for conflict assembled through the guile of imagination, to serve not only as inspiration, but in rare & elevated instances, a road map to redemption?  The attentive reader is seduced by the familiarity of fictional adversity & at it's most impactful, writing permits a breadth of adaptability in offering unique avenues of identification, within the imaginary landscape.

The writer in search of profound, adaptable modes of conflict will find themselves attracted to observing disappointment, frustration or desperation. It is the violence of these struggles which are spread apart for the page, then re-assembled into the verisimilitude of our characters' experience. How these challenges arrive & in particular, how they are mastered, forms the emotional landscape of believable characters within the arch of the narrative. It is their adversity which serves as the adhesive which then bonds the reader’s empathic imagination to that of the writer’s. Struggle is endemic to human experience & by artfully portraying unique-yet-recognizable conflict within the body of our writing, we develop the emotional base of our work.

That which frightens, then threatens to destroy through fear, is the malice which the progressive identity strives to defeat; we read for insight & fresh approach in this battle.

Adversity is overcome by a unique combination of luck, care, patience, courage & wisdom— qualities which bloom mysteriously by a force of will to activate. As writers, we are required to observe—either those of our own or the struggles of those who inhabit our environments. Ideally, we glean insight into how these ennobling characteristics can be summoned or coaxed to rescue those rent incapable by suffering. There is strength & valour everywhere.

It is these unique, heartbreaking battles through the adversity of existence which enables us to identify with others. Each of us is required to overcome in order to meet basic needs. Compelling writing envelopes the reader in the well-observed particulars of these struggles. When artfully composed, literature serve to both motivate & enlighten. We are absorbed by the mechanics of familiar experience, which forge terms of personal resolution; we solve our own conflicts by proxy.

{Artwork by Ruben Cukier}

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Subtlety of Distinction

As writers, we are afforded a breadth of opportunity which must, in order to fulfill it's purpose, exist outside of the practical. In daily life, we manage the various functions attached to maintenance & survival. Consequence for neglecting these requirements is unique & invariably direct—if we do not sleep, we eventually become deranged. Writing offers a unique opportunity to skip the practical & allow life to be explored beyond the systemic.

For those of us who chose to write about history, the editorial approach to all creative work is tantamount in determining how actual events will be restructured o the page. We ought to research exhaustively, reading, then comparing all available materials already in publication, all manner of reference to a subject we have selected for exploration. It logically follows that the greater the store of knowledge we strive to acquire through careful research, then the more applicable the content we add to a chosen subject. Knowledge derived from previous research is essential to this form of writing & the historian with lazy habits will soon be exposed for their lack of scope.

Yet the page can be seductive & writers who have chosen to set fictional narratives within a sequence of actual events, these writers have the challenge of imagining a story occurring within the discernible facts of recorded history. The greater the range of detail available to a curious reader, the more authentic the exposition in their imagination. Writers of historical fiction spend years researching a given period & as more & more of the subtleties of a particular time frame are discovered, the narrative generated from this educated imagination is infused with precise condition.

The greater an accuracy imported from careful research, the more accessible the landscape of a fictional narrative. The combination of actual & imagined emerges as a sparkling example of how the imagination can be cultivated to construct an environment whereby the writer operates within clearly defined perimeters, yet is able to devise fictional narrative threads which exist within that historical framework. Anachronism is glaring—there were no computers in the Nineteenth Century & any attentive reader will balk at a similar suggestion.

For historical work to function properly, the narrative must correspond to rational understanding.
Not so simple to recreate is the ethical landscape, where characters draw their fictionalized paths of
reason & conditions of motive. How tempting it can be to re-interpret history through the prism of contemporary understanding.

A brave writer wanting to understand the rise of Nazism in the Second World War will soon discover the potential for offense in whatever editorial choices they settle upon. In this example, the question unsatisfactorily determined in the Nuremberg trials still has people wondering today exactly what did the German people know of the Holocaust being carried out in their midst? A simple intention, suggesting one position or it’s opposite can so easily ignite a magnificent reaction, from either side of the argument.

The desire to understand more fully can lead a writer into re-molding actual events into a sequence where the reader is encouraged to suspend judgment & empathize along the lines of recorded history which has been determined by careful & calculated editing of available documentation. What is included, albeit shrewdly, can suggest that the story has been altered in some way to allow the creator of a fictionalized tale the opportunity to provoke debate which might not have been possible at the time the actual events played-out. Fictionalized history then becomes a carefully manicured garden, designed to showcase only what is complementary to editorial choices.

Is there an ethical responsibility when re-visiting volatile history? Should we bother to raise questions which have already been thoroughly answered? Should an imagination be free to invent the conditions for a re-interpretation of pain & loss? Can the writer’s imagination provoke a fresh approach to the resolution of actual events? How can we ensure pure fidelity to the sensitivity surrounding events which contained years of suffering?

{Images by Arthur Dove}

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Literature of Ideas

In the beginning, there is a resolution to write, to tell a story. The empty page waits, sometimes patiently, other times exerting a pressure to begin. The writer sits & from the space cleared within a congested mind—inside the vast laboratory of stored sensory instance, ideas & direction begin to manifest.

All endeavour, whether redemptive, discursive or futile begins with an idea.
Within the gears of creative intellect, emotion & resolve combine to hatch ideas—these are the building blocks of a writer’s craft. These ideas evolve to serve as the foundation which drives intuitive combustion inside the creative centre. This is what the blood gets pumping & imagination enfolds around an idea like a chrysalis, so beginning to massage this fragment of instance for narrative option. What direction does the story need to head? These connections are what form the bridges between the writer's conscious mind & the characters who emerge from this activated imagination. All action within a story stems from some initial idea—that synthesis between creator & created is the reaction which serves to spark a reader's response.

If there were no ideas maturing like plants living in some carefully maintained garden, that world within our story, we would succeed is creating only a vacuum; a morass. Their development is what builds the connective tissue in our characters & what provides the access for the reader into this created world. Ideas are what fuse the psychology of characters together within coherent structure & they define the nature of personalities we strive to establish.

Morality is determined through choice. An idea, whether self-generated or imported from an external source, is what captivate imagination & the thrill of determining potential directs creative focus into the fields of endless possibility. A single idea, clearly & passionately expressed, has potential to ignite a generation.

Literature, so rich in cultivated ideas has the power to transform. Within the space established by the writer’s vision of the world as it could be, combined with the readers' hope that the redemptive factor is worth the trust of consideration afforded the imaginary, paradise might be achieved.

{Painting by Leonora Carrington}                      

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Ethical Transference

Every writer, whether actively battling through the stations of an unfolding manuscript or swimming in the formative waters of initial contemplation, this creative mind is governed by a code of ethics. The imagination, that mysterious loom is set loose within what we consider to be all that is light or dark. Working within the solitude of our own studies, that imagination is coaxed, it is encouraged to generate fresh direction for the narrative we strive to capture.

Eventually, we come to a stage in development along the writing process where we must begin to scramble. Editors need to be approached, proof readers tolerated & then finally a publisher established to convert a manuscript into something which can find a group of readers.

As the circle expands & different minds contribute to what has previously been an intimate & private arrangement, ethics which have assisted in shaping the story are brought within the range of certain challenges. It is at this juncture when we discover how ardently we have challenged ourselves whilst working inside the watery womb of creation. Have we somehow become arrested in this solitude? Has privacy allowed us to become complacent or presumptuous in the narratives crafted?

The page is the ultimate teacher & the harder we bear down, in our own unique & lonely apprenticeships, determines the degree of success achieved once the manuscript begins to face the challenges of scrutiny.

This invented world we have cobbled together has its own particular morality. We may have attempted to refract back the daily plane as perceived or experienced. Perhaps we have raised the mundane up to contain the potential we believe possible to achieve? Standards of humanity are determined & trust between our invented characters allows the reader access to the moral tone we have cultivated.

The conflicts endemic to any taut story will correspond to the perimeters of envy or compassion the characters face. These challenges transfer to the reader—this is how we connect. Once the writer’s imagination enters, then initiates the imagination of a reader, we are powerless to pull back that combustion. The role of creator is fulfilled & we might only hope the foundations of ethical tradition we raised the narrative upon will contain all desired subtleties. It is this shading which resonates within the perimeters of the world we have established.

It is for a reader to determine the success of this endeavour.

{Paintings by Max Ernst }

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Seduction of Impersonation

A brave writer has an enormous field of play. When crafting fiction, the creative mind starts somewhere near that blank slate of unlimited potential and is free to devise and invent, encumbered only by combinations of a focused intellect and regressive morality. We are to generate the plausible from within the implausible; we may venture where we dare.

What can we learn by an immersion of the writer’s mind into the expanse of a character born from that same imagination? Through the craft of developing a fresh perspective, we are permitted the opportunity to be what we are too timid to explore in actuality or we might correct an injustice as it has challenged us in regular life. In this fashion, writers approach the work of actors — we are given license to explore both morality and causation, without the threat of direct consequence. From the familiar safety of a desk, we merge time and again with the gusto of a desire to create and explore.

For the full potential of an ardent imagination to be activated into a coherent competence, the writer merges with what it is they wish to emulate. Once the desire to sculpt language into exposition has hooked the focus of intent, what novice writer has not imagined themselves capable of literary skill far beyond present ability? We read, then recognize and begin to understand the power that writing can convey — so it goes. This desire to share in the act of so direct a form of communication spins momentum forward and we imagine ourselves following along the same precipice as those we have been illuminated by.

It is mandatory growing pain: incapable of recognizing the folly of a well-intended impersonation, the exhilaration of early expression is fulled by the surfacing of nascent contents from a newly activated, darting imagination. This emotional overture belies lucid reflection; we believe in these times that we have matched what we have so admired.

Eventually, the scrape of time exposes this early vanity. That ecstasy attached to what we first created almost always breaks down as we climb the ladder of moving that raw, bewildered and flawed work towards a reader. Every serious author knows that sting of re-visiting a manuscript they once believed to shine in brilliance but on second inspection emerges as too hackneyed and presumptuous to be rescued.

If the beginner becomes lost in the belief they have achieved instant brilliance, the cruel awakening from this deception might leave a scar. It is only through the humility which accompanies wisdom that reassures us we have not failed out-rightly but only made the error of over-reaching.

In review, we learn that the imagination has seduced us into believing that time alone in the creative cloister will circumvent the pains of sincere apprenticeship.

{Artwork by Odlion Redon}