Friday, December 25, 2009

Making Talent Count


Talent, with its overinflated rating, has its place.

Give it too much significance and you are as dead as silence. As inspired as a couple of blank pages on a writer's desk.

As a writer, you have a responsibility. It calls you like the sound of a clarion, to something upward and truly fulfilling. You wouldn't want to trade that off for spiff if you knew any better. Being prolific ought to be unagitated. Like still waters thrusting into the deep of one’s soul to activate sediments of hard earned resources - your everyday experience of life - in literary enterprise.
You are what you write!

You can't rely on talent alone!

Certain things hinder a writer's progress in his/her quest for creativeness. There are diverse issues which are not unconnected which cripple a writer's productivity, eat away at the heart of his genius like cancer.

Fear is a mortal sin. So many writers have fallen like seed by the wayside because they were afraid of draught-petrified they might run out of stories. A far greater number of writers have given up their dreams of taking up writing as a career before they ever got started, scared of someone scoffing at their ideas. I do not for one moment believe that either of these two sets of writers lacked a writer's talent. What they lacked obviously is a fighting spirit.

Secondly, a lot of writers are stuck in a rut because they have priority issues.
Until you learn to treat your craft with the awe and respect it deserves, you will never beat the mediocre level. If you are one of those who take writing as a random pastime game (unless your goal is not to get published or to master the craft) be assured that your days as a writer are numbered. I just don't see it happening.

Goals mean everything. They are maps that point us to our dreams especially when we have them written down. If you see your goals on paper - where/who you want to be in five/ten years from now. And visualize your objectives, the short term goals that evaluate your progress monthly, weekly, daily, in black and white it's going to be near-impossible for fear of ridicule to penetrate your fortified defense.

Get your priorities straightened out. Writing is an adventure, the greatest of ‘em all. You go on an adventure with your bags packed, faculties prepared for whatever pops out from a corner in the woods.
Your writing periods should be planned. Set apart a time to scribble a few words everyday. You may have to squeeze time out of no time. Make it count.

Attend these suggestions with diligence. Soon you will discover that the problem is not talent related but an enthusiasm issue.

'Instead of saying, "I want to be a writer," and then sitting around wishing I were a writer, I’ve been really trying to throw myself into it. . . It’s taken me a long time to get around to writing. I’m forty-one years old and this is my first collection of stories. I don’t think I could have gotten to it much earlier. . . '

The words of Kevin Canty. I think we all could plunge ourselves into the inspiration of these words in absolute abandon and allow the waves of exuberance sweep us off the shores into the seas of deliberate prolificacy!

Merry Christmas!

Keep your pen bleeding!


Akpan

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Writer's Role

Writer's Stop
Writer's Stop (Photo credit: Stephh922)

We live within our characters. When they bleed, we bleed. When they die, a part of us-that part that stirred them into existence in the first place-dies with them. Our emotions meld and erupt as our stories reach a climax. We are gods who share; partake in the sufferings of his creation. Who feel what they feel in order to associate with their ideas and views of their 'imaginary' universe.

A place in which they are as alive and real as we are in our own world. An existence so real that a stroke off our pen could mark a fatal mistake or an irreparable loss in someone's previously perfect life-a tangible mortal sin that wakes to hubris.

In the roles we write, we are alive and present. We matter. . . 

The responsibility of a writer can not be played down.

Like bite marks on fossils identifying probable cause of extinction of a species, our scribbles outlast us. They become our voices and direct the imaginations of our readers, influence what they think they know about us.
 We all must push towards a point in our personal lives where we appraise our works through eyes of a reverence that's not arrogant. Pure and deserving of wo/men who create believable universes from the simple creed of creative thinking.

As chroniclers we define how the world we live in interprets the history of its people. The burden we've received can not be exaggerated.

When we pick up our pens to create a world through the power of the imagination, we ought to do it with the respect it deserves. The ideas we represent live forever. They will survive us long after our bone is dust to dust.

Laurence Dunbar, William Wordsworth, Sylvia Plath, Audrey Lorde and the army of writers who are no longer here with us did their share creating works of art for which readers and writers hold these in untamed reverence through the years.

We ought to live for something that will last. We ought to breathe our souls on the pages of our journals, weave our essences into the 'dots and slashes' and allow the waves of inspiration to muster the letters that form from the blots of our pen into phrases.

We are not to assume we will be up to this task when we are perfect.

We are writers. Writers write!
Like right this minute!

Keep your pen bleeding!


Akpan



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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beyond The Word


"Some of us - poets are not exactly poets. We live sometimes - beyond the word."

The life of a poet is one beleaguered by metaphors.

Someone rightly said about Thomas Gray's 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' that lots of people had seen that same church cemetry, had been there, tasted the atmosphere, drank in the fragrance of the buds before this great poet came to the place with eyes simple enough to see his surroundings but not one of these saw the unwritten verse hanging, dangling like the ancient apple, tempting anybody who would look close enough to turn 'em into everlasting words.

Wole Soyinka as a young man.
As a poet it is not just about seeing the ideas posing in your face. Remember  Wordsworth's famous definition of poetry:

'Emotion recollected in tranquility'

The primary essence of poetry is being able to capture the 'feel' of that moment, the emotion which inspired the verse and to bring that into the words that becomes the 'visible' poem.

If you look closer you'll find that it is not the words that is poetry but the emotion borne in the phrases and breathed into the reader. The words are like symbols, allographs scribbled representative of something deep and more meaningful, almost too sacred to be 'corrupted' by mere alphabets.

Poetry goes beyond the words and even those few times its invention is spontaneous the rush of inspiration takes credit. A good poem, a masterpiece is rarely ever created in one sitting. It undergoes tons and tons of revision and editing. Sometimes, you might have to blog it to know what others think about it before you can add the finishing touches.

Understanding the Professor, Wole Soyinka's words quoted at the beginning of this article you need to know where he has been. His poems echo his life in prison, his days in exile and his years of contending with corrupt military juntasPoems from Prison (1969) and The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972) describe his close to 30 months in a Nigerian prison, and his play, King Baabu is a satire of African dictators.

So the next time you pick up your pen to write poetry remember to paddle a few miles offshore and really live 'beyond the word'.


Akpan


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Monday, December 7, 2009

Fear is a Writer's Toy


I remember the many times I sat before my computer and dreaded touching the keyboard afraid of what strange words might find it’s way to the screen.

Many of those times I knew there was a story waiting to be written. I could see the actions played out in my mind, it was like watching a theater act during rehearsals. What then was the underlying cause of my unrest?

I was afraid that my 'limited' vocabulary would be insufficient in communicating the world on my insides to the mind of my readers. I felt I couldn't be true to the images flickering on the walls of my mind owing to a lack of words to 'appropriately' express them. Hence, many of those stories died before they were born; they experienced literary stillbirths.

Have you ever been hindered by a seeming 'remoteness' of your story-ideas? Have you ever had a moment you regarded a picture in your own mind as superior to your writing abilities?

The story might be mightier than the warrior but definitely not the storyteller.

If two distinct authors could reproduce the telling or the showing of a specified event using exactly the same format-vocabulary and writing style inclusive-I suppose then the idea of originality would be defeated. You probably share my sentiment, don't you?

Here are a few tips from Steven Barnes which I believe could transform any writer's fears into tools for mastery of the craft:

1. What will a writing career add to your life?

2. What is the greatest risk connected with your goal? Greatest potential reward?

3. There are voices in your mind speaking to you about your plans. Whose voice speaks most loudly?

After listing these three leading questions Steven has this to say:

The more clearly you understand the potential benefits of actually fulfilling your dreams, the easier it is to feel the motivation necessary to accomplish them.

In the following lines he takes a step further suggesting that the writer ought to turn his fears into his character's fears thereby enhancing the plausibility of his story:

1. What does your lead character want, and how will her desires affect her life?

2. What danger lies ahead for your character?

3. What ghosts from your character's past keep her from seeing things clearly?

Remember, ideas in your mind sound different on paper. You can only tell a good idea from a bad one after you put it down.

Put it down. I guess that's the hardest part. The hardest moment is always before you start. This blog is my little way of learning how to conquer my personal demons.

Until next time.
Write Everyday!

Keep your pen bleeding!


Akpan
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Friday, December 4, 2009

Write Everyday





Write everyday!

This advice has not been stressed enough. Anything, everything that's worth reflecting on deserves a place in your journal!

All around us we find opportunities to be distracted. Whenever we access the coven of tranquility these distractions could become nuggets.

What do you write about?

How about, 'Time and again I tried to immerse my soul in the velvet caress of silence, but the madness of commotion held my thoughts aloof . . . feet dangling like a man in a noose. Impossible to communicate with my inner self I gave up and yielded in total helplessness to noise. Disconcerted, I became a subdued prisoner or captive of the writer's foremost enemy . . .

The point is anything you jot down in an attempt to perfect your writing style, to keep your muse fired, stretches the capacity of your imaginative genius.

Pick up your pen and write away, or flip open your laptop and stab at the keyboards like you are falling behind schedule 'cause you are if you haven't been at this.

Bestselling novelist and screen writer, Steven Barnes said:

'Any skill you wish to master must be addressed everyday'

Everyday.

As naturally as you consider eating and taking water. Chew on that for a while . . .

Did you know that the reason you remember to nourish your body by feeding it is because you have made a habit of it? It wouldn't be that easy if you had to remind yourself to eat before you could fill your tummy. But you have by persistent practice subjected your body to respond to nutrition by stimuli.

You can train your senses too to surrender to your muse. You can conquer those inner struggles that try to curb your enthusiasm.

The world is waiting for the birthing of a genius. Do not restrict your liberty to express your innermost being, that solitary opportunity to be one with the inner mystery by reducing your destiny to a game of chance.

Write Everyday!

And you must. It's your only ticket to perfection!



Akpan


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