Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Spooky Art of Writing

One learns much from the process of writing, and thinking about writing. Eleven months after starting this three-year personal challenge of continuous blogging, I have learnt much about the craft of writing. Having written fulltime and freelance, I can attest that writing professionally can be very challenging. You have to be very organised and clear in the business, and passion can only carry you so far. Your tools are your words and your stories – two reliable anchors that can get you started on your journey on this quirky and creative profession.

The late-Norman Mailer wrote in ‘The Spooky Art’ on his trial and tribulations of writing. He drew upon his fifty years of writing experience and writes about the writer’s craft. Mailer explored, among other topics, the attractions and limitations of non-fiction, the relevance of work habits and discipline, the pitfalls of early success, and the dire business of coping with bad reviews. But perhaps the most enthralling parts of this readable book is when he takes on his fellow writers, living and dead: Melville, Faulkner, Hemingway, Henry Miller, Updike, Roth, Vonnegut, Garcia Marquez, Bellow, Styron, Beckett, and a host of others including Mark Twain, D.H. Lawrence, and Toni Morrison.

Mailer wrote, 'I believe I could end up as a good critic because I know so much about novel writing by now. I can always tell when someone is drawing sustenance out of his or her best vein and when the needle missed.'

I hope I have not missed too many of my intravenous attempts to hit the spot, with you – dear readers! What are the lessons you learnt as you write? We send hundreds of e-mails and text messages every month, respond to blogs, and give our opinions and critiques. The message is in your communication.

A quick survey of some participants at last weekend’s race yielded the following facts about their objectives:

1) To race for the experience

2) To race first-time in a lengthened format

3) To race for a personal best time

4) To assess how their body holds up after a recent race

5) To seriously qualify for a podium finish

6) To qualify for the world championships

Each objective has a story to tell. Interview the participants. Write about it. There may be more than meets the eye and ears, and our sensibilities.

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