Sunday, October 31, 2010

In A Place Of Our Own


One of our deepest needs as individuals is to have that special slot we can call our own. You know, sort of an emotional wiggle room where we explore our more homely selves or we explode into a million shining details of genius. A refuge we crawl into and turn our backs to the rest of the universe.

Deep within the caverns of our nature, there is a place we all go when we need a hideaway from distractions. For the writer as for every man.

Providence gave us hearts, besides other reasons, as a retreat, an alcove to unwind in utter abandonment. In that we possess all liberties to explore, to the minutest detail, our own private universes with all the interruptions of this world muffled.

We cannot deny it, that our subtlest inventions are most tempted to swim upstream and break surface when we dally in the belly of the great alone. We climb higher when we reach deeper into the depths of solitude. And it's true what they say, "Everybody deserves a day away from hassles", or something like that.

As writers we owe it to our muse, a sense of duty and we are much obliged to fulfill it. Set a date to carve out a vital writing space – some place where our muse can explode, the cauldron of juices boil over and where we can find the desired calm to run down the day's activities. A nook where we are most at home with our real self. Experienced writers have said it; Most of us do our best writing in a place of our own.

You can start by moving that writing desk of yours to some place that offers a nice view, by a window possibly. CREATE a space you can really call your "writing space" and start fitting in stuff that can boost your literary ego. Objects and articles that can feed itchy fingers. A queer shaped mug filled with assorted pens and colorful pencils; a bulletin board; or even a bookshelf and so on. Try to save up enough money and at the end of every month add one more item to your library collections.

Training your senses to respect your quiet place brings with it a kind of dignity. You can't shake the feeling that you are a writer when you approach that spot.

Whatever triggers your juices ought to be in your writing room or top the list in your budget. This is one piece you can't sweep under the rug and look the other way. If you can straddle that line sure you can hold your breath 'cause in a minute, you'll look back and find the clouds are far, far behind you.

Keep your pen bleeding.

Akpan



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Off The Edge


A writer is a man who has taught his mind to misbehave. Stephen King

It's like coming off the end of one dream to settle into another spin of reverie. We are alive in the very roles we write. We grow one page at a time. And the qualities, which define us tows the same line and bonds with our stories to create distinct and unique universes. In time, the line between what we know is real and what we know only exists in the annals of our imagination blurs.

After a little bit, you tune into the shifts between the real and the conceived. And right there with the sunlight way over your head, you trance out. You wake into your fantasies and dream your wildest realities. Yeah, that's what you get for thinking too much.

We come into that place full of beginnings and endings and everything in between. And here's the amazing thang, this is no schizophrenic stuff. Oh no, but the invention of the strictest form of self discipline. It's like walking into a tangle of live high tension wires. You are standing off the wall and experiencing the best of two worlds. Maybe I ought to let King help me out,

Write enough stories and every shadow on the floor looks like a footprint, every line in the dirt like a secret message.

Deep in the storehouse of our psyches is another realm, vivid and inhabitable. A universe existing contemporaneously, side by side with what we know as the real world. Within its envelope of air are beings, peculiar, cultured or criminal minded, (your choice) all working to fulfill a dynamic plan and as alive as we are in our own existence. As real as you and I. On the insides of all of us, in the crypts of our hearts, sealed behind a vault bearing these inscriptions, "Come write in!"

The longer we fuss over the pages of our journals, the deeper our drives drag us into our fictional worlds, the closer we get to glimpsing the diminishing line. If we can cross that line from this realm into a world of our own making we would have scored a hat trick. Gained access to a ledge of endless bouts of inspiration.

First, we must train our senses to be so tuned up that we see reality in the imagined and visualize our imaginations working the scenes, lighting up reality like a glittering hieroglyph for,

A writer is a man who has taught his mind to misbehave.


Eneh

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back To Life

On June 19 of ’99, Stephen King caught a van. A light blue Dodge van heading South. The resulting impact almost snuffed the life out of him. He survived with a “cataclysmically smashed hip” and the region below his right knee was reduced to “so many marbles in a sock”.

The days that followed were as frightening as the rising actions of a horror movie.

On July 9, three weeks after the impact, Mr. King was released from Central Maine Medical Center and sent home for rehab and PT (that’s short for Physical Therapy). He shuttled between his home and the hospital enduring gruesome surgeries. I wouldn’t want to go into details but he would have chewed a bullet, that’s for sure.

It would be five weeks after the nightmare, before he would consider getting back to work, his work: writing. The task was very near impossible because of his hip. All twisted and in a terrible mess. But for a man who has scrawled his way out of the most unlikely situations, spilling his soul on the pages of his notebook, he was willing to take the chance.

His wife, Tabitha, who is also a novelist, set up a new writing spot for him at the back hall of their house. Complete with a laptop and a printer, because his wheel chair wouldn’t fit into his usual writing space. On his initial day, he wrote for barely more than an hour before his hold on his hip slipped.

That first day, hope bulldozed a way down the tunnel of his life as he left his mark on those pages. He would later recall such triumphs in these words,

“For me, the act of writing has been an act of faith, a spit in the eye of despair.”

Despair can hardly wreck a life which exudes passion for his art. It is indeed fact that life can be one sweet affair. And we can always find a pathway in the dark night of the soul through writing. As we go on in pursuit of our craft, we’ll chance that place of release and truly grasp the depth of King’s insight and the transformation that his struggles with a broken hip authored. He did the writing world service by putting it in print so that we can find what took him daunting pressure to discover.

And here’s how he summed it all up,

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”


Eneh


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Friday, October 22, 2010

Remarkable Adventures

Writing can be a terrific adventure. Moments fueled by unfolding layers of exciting activities. Pages after pages of stolen mysteries whipped up by the sound of paper.

Faced with the possibility of failure a writer feels the eyes of discouragement stalking his will with a white hot glare. I have had moments of doubt myself. Still do, sometimes. I think the one single ingredient that kept me going were Maya Angelou’s words, ‘There ain’t nothing to it, but to do it’. Yes, there’s no other way to keep up but by keeping up. When we finally find the courage to go on, we would have achieved an endless access into the streams of our creativeness.

Our journeys in the world of the imagination can be tinged with a bit of magic. But first, we must find a way around the obstacles and get our creative juices boiling. Finding what works for you, the subject that makes you tick would be one step in the right direction.

Often, we find ourselves picking someone else’s vines, writing stuff that’s totally off limits to us. And many times, the stuffs we write about may not even spark one single flame of interest inside us.

Beating our tracks back to familiar grounds could very well set us off to a good start. I’ve learned how tough it is to be inventive wading through strange waters. When you walk into a topic you have no business in the world messing in, you’re stuck. You just might want to give up on writing entirely, thinking it’s not for you. It takes just that little effort to run into a wall.

When we are unblocked we can have remarkable and diverse adventures - Julia Cameron.

The point is to find a primary genre and put a tag on it. From that instant forward, the block becomes somewhat of a myth. Discovery of a genre we can naturally adapt to unplugs our muse, puts the wind at our backs, and then it slides us into the embrace of remarkable adventures.

Keep the scribbler's pen bleeding!

Akpan


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bestseller



How many a writer perch at a desk
By a window looking over nameless shrubs
And struggle to squeeze out a sentence off his sweat,
While nursing birth pangs of a plot.
He wouldn't believe it for a second if I tell him
That in the acts sown seamlessly into the scenes
Is the subtle unfolding of my becoming.
Do you marvel when you glimpse my glory?
Could it possibly be you do not know my story?
I hide in the moments that take your breath away,
Like a plume of whisper riding the alpine echo,
I am a best-selling story.
                       
Perhaps, you have witnessed my daily walk,
Or maybe, ya'll heard the simpleness of my talk.
Yet, know not an inkling about the myself of me.
Let me put you through with an allegory:
I am a pick of poetry spotlighting a piece of plain prose,
Like a wink of sunshine busting on a thousand prairies.
I strive for the fullness of an exceptional life:
I'm a million tiny drops building up a tide.
You would never know for sure what you're missing,
Until you look me up on the bestseller list.
Anonymous, unknown and unbeknownst to you,
I am a million-copy best-selling story.
                       
When I exhale it's a unique story,
Challenges are my entourage to the threshold of HIStory.
Skim through your newest writing project,
What you see between the storyline are prospects
Of an ordinary me living lavishly legendary,
Still standing strong in one beautiful black body.
Posterity mines the archives to glean my magic,
And witness there ain't nobody betters my story,
That the life I live today is for real
And endures like bite marks on fossil.
Eternally, I am rebirth splintering husks of sun baked
raisins,
I am a best-selling story.
                       
                       
Eneh
                       
                        

Wordsworth's Criterion

Poetry Workshop by Pooja Nansi 3
Poetry Workshop (Photo credit: Steel Wool)
Okay, let’s talk poetry. I’m not interested in the fundamentals – form, structure, or metric fluidity, right now. I’m more at home with unwinding the spool of mystic which wounds around the craft like a shawl; the touch of poetry on the soul and the spontaneous ignition that accompanies the reaction.

I’ve heard people argue that the human emotion has no business meddling with the heartstrings of poetry. This school of thought points out that far too much research and constructing goes into the making of a poem. And so, they stress, to fling the craft at the mercy of a thousand nameless emotions is, stating it mildly . . .  flimsy. I disagree, though. Well, I’ll give them due fairness and add that these school does not deny entirely the relevance of our feelings to the flow of cadence. Actually, they view them as mere poetical attach├ęs and nothing more. They assert that sensations are fickle and lacking in depth to be a route to the core of poetry.

Well, I don’t know about that one. What I do know is I’m out to understand the essence of poems and I’m taking into consideration the pick-and-choose nature of the craft. The selectiveness of verse, its choice of delicate words differentiates it from prose. I like explaining it to myself like this, if narrating in non-fiction is telling, if in story writing it’s showing, then in poetry above all, it is feeling.

Of course, I speak in defense of poetry; the emotion is an indispensable ingredient in every form of writing created to have a personal edge. Maybe, just maybe news reporting might be excused from what Stephen King calls Wordsworth’s Criterion.

The poet feels his way through each word applied to each line of verse, skillfully selecting, streamlining, and fine-tuning them to sync with the emotive flow of the entire tapestry. Poetic language is attentive to meaning, nuances, and sound patterns of words a poet repairs to in creating his art. This is something readily overlooked in any other form of literature, (Like I stated above, only writing that does not call attention to feelings maybe exempted.) except of course, music which at its finest is characterized by elements of poetics. By the way, writing which appeals to human emotion always always is the offshoot of poetics.

Aristotle said, ‘The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor’.  You would easily agree that without metaphors poetry would be one first class piece of dead meat. The metaphor is the evocative force of poetry which paints mental pictures of sweet delights within a reader.

Robert Frost was thinking the same thing when he remarked, ‘There are many other things I have found myself saying about poetry but the chiefest of these is that it is metaphor . . .’ Poetry is the vehicle of emotion just the same way the emotion is the writer, the driver of poetics.

Robert Wallace puts a ring of finality to it when he says, ‘The metaphors virtually stand for or present the emotion.’  Remember, William Wordsworth’s definition of poetry; Emotion recollected in tranquility?

The metaphors are visible passions which lend their charm to the poem. In other words, they ain’t just the thrust of feelings in the verse but the seen aspect of emotions recollected.

Keep your pen bleeding!


Akpan


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Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's Electric. Boogie. Wooogie

Talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it.


If we wanted to take some time to study the phenomenon of the electric current before we fed our household gadgets with its magical juices, we just might never get around to using it.

For some of us based in Lagos, Nigeria or any parts of planet earth, where power supply brings you the worst kind of drama-where power's on the other side of erratic, any research in that quarter is absolutely forbidden. Take as example, a fellow trapped in a relative environment takes his chances, he tries to understand the flow of current, the technicality behind the stuff. He works himself to a rust researching and researching.

The odds are 99 to 1.

Several years after our guy is six feet under, he'll still be wishing the lights had stayed on 'just a few moments longer'.

'Just a little longer'. Could regret evoke a richer melancholy streak? I doubt it.

We don't have to go through this guy's traumas to unravel the mystery called talent. We are sure to come off exhausted and burned out. And, we still wouldn't experience the thrills of creativity. It's the worst kind of defeat. Inspiration is an unstable quantity-unpredictable but it is not changeable. It only stays this long and then it fizzles away.

Understanding your talent is grabbing at it every chance you get.

We all got potential. A measure of ability. A capacity to be inventive and so little time to ravel the functionalities. Experience teaches. It’s all in the long haul. A way to be on first name basis with our creativeness is to be constantly creative; we have to keep having a go at it. And soon enough we would have a feel of our habitat.

The zone is where we go to understand the muse. To enter the zone, we strip ourselves of mutual tensions and accept our gifts for what they are: gifts. You know how sickening it feels to have somebody scrutinize your present to them. Guess what? You are doing it to yourself.

The everyday little activities we perform, when we bring our heart to it and make out time to be creative in that, reveals a little bit of our talent. It is the mystery we are within.


The core of the individual’s characteristics is revealed in his talent(s).


Talent trapped exclusively in pods of spectacular art is not pure talent and consequently, unbeneficial to the talented.


Our lives, the daily chores that define us are often the channels for personal and artistic eruptions.


Bleed your soul’s juice. Charge up a world gone to hell in a hand basket.


Akpan

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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Learning Curve

A little girl leaning against a sofa.
A little girl leaning against a sofa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There isn’t a single thing we do in life that we do not learn by imitation. The basic tool of learning and one of its most efficient is imitation.

From our first steps as toddlers, as we attempted and failed in the quest to stroll on the soles of our feet-and not our palms and kneecaps scrubbing the length of the floor-to the earliest moments we began sprinting with a measure of gait in our bounce, we are products of imitation. We imitated our parents, a brother, a sister, a classmate, our teacher, or a close neighbor. And there is an infinitely interesting fact about this thing: the learning curve is one hard knock college nobody ever graduates from.

We thrive from our experiences and as we know better, we do better. But, we never actually stop learning. We become mature in decision-making; we understand the weight of our choices, yes, much more than we did as toddlers; we become men in handling our own affairs. Mama doesn’t have to watch out for us anymore and make sure we do not fall in the pot of soup or tumble down the staircase while trying to play Superman like the kid in the old Nigerian children short story, ‘Ade our Naughty Lil’ Brother’.

If any man actually graduates from this institution, he has no right to teach. The man who stops learning, stops growing and ultimately stops living. If you are trying to give what you don’t possess, now that’s a bigger gamble than a pack of dice and God help your pupil.

Life presents to us, numerous privileges, each of these enrich us in a special way. The moments of life are brimming with resources; heaven’s providence sent to haul us through the corridors of improvement. We pile up nuggets of useful information when we open our hearts and embrace life with a little bit of sincerity and a truckload of simplicity.

The law of imitation, not the tendency to fake it. The simple creed of learning from another can happen to us through anybody. (And really, it never stops happening.) They do not have to be older or more educated in such matters than we are. We continue by bonding our hearts and spirits through the principle of sharing. And the reality stands undisputed we can never chance the stages of self-discovery unless we imitate in the minutest of things.


Keep your pen bleeding!




Akpan
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