Thursday, July 20, 2006

Another student recommended the book, From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler, a series of essays on writing from his lecture series at Northwestern Unversity, and edited by Janet Burroway. It's been just what I need to kickstart both my writing discipline and inspiration, and somehow seems ideally suited to the weather. One of the many paragraphs I've underlined are these ones:
You know, it's easy to get caught up in the ambition of being a writer. It's easy to get caught up in loving literature and wishing to be the person on the dust jacket. This ambition, as innocent-seeming as it is, can very easily muscle out your deeper, more delicate, more difficult ambitions ... What I want to nurture in you is the impluse: "I'm ravished by sensual experience. I yearn to take life in. My God! I've got this sense that the world has meaning. Things roil around in my dream space, and I've got to figure out how to make art objects of them." That's really the best ambition, to be hungry for sensual experience in your life. Ravenous. Artists are not intellectuals. We are sensualists. The objects we create are sensual objects, and the way you'll know that you're writing from your head is that you'll look at your story and find it full of abstraction and generalization and summary and analysis and interpretation....

Mies van de Rohe said that God is in the details. Let's substitute: the human condition resides in the details, the sense details.

The primary point of contact for the reader is going to be an emotional one, because emotions reside in the senses.


So my writing prompt for today is a nice one: I'm going to allow myself to be ravished by my senses!

And, if like me, reading his thoughts on the writing process has sent you back to re-reading Robert Olen Butler's own creative work, a short story of his, 'Woman Struck by Car Turns into Nymphomaniac', can be found here. (Actually, I'm setting hundreds of sexy google searchers up for disappointment with putting that title there, but welcome to you all anyway - particularly those who combined Nymphomaniac with car in their search criteria, may all your motoring fantasies come true!)

1 comment:

bb said...

Yes, that sounds like a book to get everyone back in love with the act of creating again, sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the submissions and rejections.

And googling for nymohomaniac/car? LOL. Yes, those searchers will be probably find your post a litlle staid for their tastes :-)