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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ours to shape and mold

“A writer - and, I believe, generally all persons - must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our  art.” – Jorge Luis Borges

Time and again writers hear the expression “Write what you know.”  And while it may seem trite or obvious it is the truest of truisms, because if you write what you know – in other words your own world and what has surrounded you – you have an almost bottomless bag of goodies from which to draw upon.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that you must ONLY write what you know.  Instead, use your own experiences as a starting point and a sort of “fill in the blanks” bag.  Time and again in my creative writing, when stuck at a point that seems insurmountable, I’ve turned inward and said “when did I have a similar experience and how did I handle it?”  The answer to myself almost always led to a doorway through which I could continue on the path toward completing the story.

Borges was an Argentine poet who knew the value and power of the things within our own world and how beneficial they could be to a writer.  His thoughts about that are vividly portrayed in his award-winning poem, simply titled,
My walking-stick, small change, key-ring,
The docile lock and the belated
Notes my few days left will grant
No time to read, the cards, the table,
A book, in its pages, that pressed
Violet, the leavings of an afternoon
Doubtless unforgettable, forgotten,
The reddened mirror facing to the west
Where burns illusory dawn. Many things,
Files, sills, atlases, wine-glasses, nails,
Which serve us, like unspeaking slaves,
So blind and so mysteriously secret!
They’ll long outlast our oblivion;
And never know that we are gone.

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