|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
Yup, first the reminders:
1. I am a believer in the never ending process of learning. In that cause I would like to put out an invitation to poets living in the Ventura, California area. Wednesday nights, for the next eight weeks, at 7 PM in Ventura at the Vita Art Center, 432 North Ventura Avenue, there will be an ongoing poetry workshop. This is a great opportunity to sharpen your craft and gather with other writers in the pursuit of excellence.
2. I have never done this before so I'm still figuring out my proverbial butt from a hole in the ground. What I am proposing is a poetry contest. Before you get to crazy, I am initially aiming this at the Southern California area. Perhaps later I can expand my reach but I'm still trying to get the ins and outs figured and would appreciate suggestions from anyone who has done this, or anything remotely similar, before.
Feel free to contact me about either of these announcements at the e-mail address listed at the bottom of the post.
Why writing SHOULD be difficult!
Ever run across one of those posts or people relating how a story, poem, or essay just seemed to fly from their thoughts to the paper? Ever tried to write something of even moderate length that wasn't pure formula in one shot? Ever been even mildly satisfied with the result?
The most reliable story I can recount about this type of literary cyclone of creativity is the one about Jack Kerouac and the infamous scroll of taped together tracing paper on which he typed the original draft "On The Road". Needless to say, it was an accomplishment of Benzedrine and wine-driven stream of consciousness. But is the legend of spontaneity true?
The reality deflates the myth. Kerouac had been compiling the dialogue and scenes for the work in notebooks for years. The scroll had been typed without paragraph breaks or margins and required arduous editing to be truly readable. Even then, it underwent several edits and rewrites before it was actually released. What was released was hailed and reviled and to this day stands as a milestone of an era.
Should writing be this strenuous? Well, that depends...Do you want to produce something that stands the test of time, or just another round of S + M/vampire drivel? Hemingway's take on this will probably always be my favorite all time quote on the matter. If the writing isn't a struggle that requires you to stretch further than you ever have, then you are not giving your reader what they deserve. What's that? YOUR ABSOLUTE BEST! Worse than that, you are not accepting the challenge of your own creativity. This makes you a charlatan and prostitutes the title of 'writer' you've wrapped your bony ass in.
Am I saying that writing should be ALL heavy lifting? Hell, no! We all came to this originally because of the magic it showed us. That sudden ZAP of inspiration like lightning in the night. (Yes, that was a touch purple...Who's writing this, me or you... hmmmmm?) Eventually though, if you want to pursue this with any regularity and avoid the paralysis of writer's block, there's only one course. Hard work...which, if done right, can actually be GREAT FUN. A refreshing take on this can be found at Writing Forward.
Writing should be a joy. Writing should be something you look forward to. Writing should also be a place where you go to rise above the mundane crowd. It should be something of such importance that a task as simple as a letter or a blog is another opportunity to apply art and craft to extend your imagination and vision. Will it make you the next Samuel Clemens? He cut his teeth as a newspaperman before he became a renowned writer and satirist. How did he do it? By never settling for just okay!
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis