Over the last few weeks, I've been looking online at various pieces related to writing. As you all know, they are there in their thousands. Whilst looking on The Huffington Post, a couple of blogs caught my eye. Both men make me realise I need to consider the approach they advocate. I believe I am constrained by the wider audience and I certainly need to expand my voice.
Carl Phillips makes the point that writers often forget they are actually writing for an audience of one. Every person who reads any piece of writing, reads that work from an individual perspective. If, as writers, we remember that, we make it easier for ourselves in the development of our work. Communicating with one person is simpler than conveying a point to a large audience. The focus is on the significance of the words - the message is decluttered. Those who love what we write, the indifferent, and the haters, will still be there, but the onus is on them to take from our words, the written and the unsaid, what they will.
Formality can take a back seat if we write as if it is for someone we know.
The most interesting point for me is he says we must stop trying to be all things to all people. Attempting to excite and interest every person reading our work weakens it. For Carl Phillips, the best writing stands out when it resonates with a few.
“Don’t try to visualize the great mass audience. There is no such audience, every reader is a different person.”
― William Zinsser (from On Writing Well)
The other blog I found interesting was by William Kenower. He talks about the difference between learning the craft of writing and finding your writing voice.
His blog lends itself to the same idea as that perpetuated by the first. You find your voice when you are intent on writing uniquely, unhindered by what 'the audience' finds interesting. He says you can learn techniques, use books and classes if you wish, or just write determinedly until you achieve believable characters and dialogue, etc. But your voice is unique - it is who you are, what you believe, where your curiosity lies.
Quoting Kenower: To follow your curiosity with abandon is to accept that you will learn what your success looks like, and that it will look different than anyone else’s.
Unbelievably it’s already nearly the end of January. How did that happen?
Monday Muse – Chris has posted up some great muses:
- Which items would you save if your house was on fire?
- And which would you miss if you couldn’t save them?
- Make up a definition for ‘flangiprop’
- Describe your relationship with your phone/social media provider
- and some photos.
Sue has provided us with the blog this week, Forget Your Perfect Offering, looking at how to use – or not to use – song lyrics in our writing.
On the Bragging Stool this week we have Lesley who has not one, not two, but three stories in an anthology: ‘Today’s Specials’ by The Oldham Writing Café. The official launch is on 28th March and it is available to buy on amazon – fantastic, Lesley!
Also we have Jill with her story “The Blind Truth” which is being published in the latest edition of the First Writer ezine – well done, Jill!
It’s week 49 for Sue on adhoc – keep it up, Sue!
And my brag, which I will officially put up on the site later, is that I’ve handed in my novella-in-flash to Bath Flash Fiction. It is the longest piece of finished work I have written, so I’m really happy (and relieved). I would like to thank Sue for putting me onto the idea, but all of you for your encouragement over the last couple of months.
February Challenges and Opportunities are up.
The next informal meeting will be held on Sunday 12th February at 11am CET
The next formal meeting will be held on Sunday February 26th at 4pm with Maggie in the chair.
Apologies if I’ve missed anything. Do let me know and I can make changes.
It’s celebration time in Hong Kong – the new lunar year started on Saturday (rooster) – so I’ll leave you by saying: Kung Hei Fat Choi and may this be a prosperous year for you all.
This is the song that began my foray into the pitfalls of using music lyrics in my writing.
I began this blog intending to lift the lid and take a peek at music lyrics and copyright issues in our writing. This first cropped up for me last year when I, in my innocence, used threads of lyrics from Carole King’s Will You Still Love Me in my short memoirish story, Tonight’s the Night, soon to be released (minus the song lyrics) in an anthology by Bath Flash Fiction.
But you know me, I begin with one train of thought and then I begin to wander, and wonder. So I wondered how other authors, well known authors especially, deal with the issue.
The author who comes immediately to mind is Louise Penny, successful crime writer of the Inspector Gamache novels. http://www.louisepenny.com/index.html. Her 9th novel in the Gamache series is titled: ‘How the Light Gets In.’ Such a familiar line from the Leonard Cohen song, Anthem.
Knowing that a few snatches of lyrics in my 300 word story would have cost in the region $500, I scratched my head and wondered how much it cost for Ms Penny’s publisher to obtain permission to use lines from Cohen’s lyrics as her title and more lines from the song within the novel itself. Listen. Just like I did in 2013 - just 10 rows from the stage. The thought provoking and inspiring lyrics are provided with this YouTube clip:
It turns out our late dear clever poetic Mr. Cohen used lines from a very ancient Arabic poem for these lyrics (or so I understand) and, as the original words were written centuries ago, Ms Penny probably didn’t need to get permission to use them (although I suspect her publisher did anyway.)
Thanks to Cohen, Penny and an Arabic poet, because of the lines: ‘forget your perfect offering, there is, there is, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’, my blog about copyright and music lyrics has gone its own way and turned into the topic of perfection in our writing - in fact perfection in all we do and why we think we need to strive for it.
So why don’t we forget about our perfect offerings, be true to ourselves, and let the light get in - for isn’t that what we really seek through our writing? Through imperfections won't we find the truth?
Music and lyrics will still follow me through my life and remind me of my times and experiences through the decades. But using them in my writing now has that extra level of challenge.