Charles Clanton Rogers

Reflections based on poetry, music, visual art, book reviews, history of science, first-person history, philosophical essays and International Blogging

https://clanton1934.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/46-prelude-a-lapres-midi-dun-faune.m4ashutterstock_258722450Annie Dillard,  in her lighthouse of ideas for writers, (1) reminds us that an author must present  a part of truth as the writer knows it; but it must be authentic. 

 

 

images-3                                                                                                  He must not presume to know all of the truth.

What is the acid test of your writing material?

Dillard relates a metaphorical story

” One bad winter in the Artic… an Algonquin woman and her baby were left alone after everyone else in their winter camp had starved. Ernest Thompson Seton tells it. The woman walked from the camp where everyone had died and found a cache at a lake. The cache contained one small fishhook. It was simple to rig a line, but she had no bait and no hope of bait. The baby cried. She took a knife and cut a strip of flesh from her own thigh.    She fished with the worm of her own flesh and caught a jackfish; she fed the child and herself.  Of course, she saved the fish gut for bait.  She lived alone at the lake, on fish, until Spring, when she walked out again and found people.  Seaton’s informant had seen the scar on her thigh.”

Just as the Algonquin woman had only her own resources, literally, our grasp of truth comes from our own experience.  In my reading when I find a riveting narrative by a writer, invariably, it has the authenticity that comes from first person experience. You must write using pieces of yourself- your experiences.

Your experience is what you know to be true. Write about what you, alone, know to be true. Better yet, write about what you alone love and know to be true. 

Non-fiction requires strict accuracy and reference certified documentation.  Non-fiction is tough.  However, I find that fiction is much more difficult. Writing fiction is not a license to lie.  In fiction, you are challenged to convey truth illustrated in an engrossing narrative. The setting, the characters, and the plot can be fabricated, but the message must have the ring of truth.  This feeling of authenticity comes from the first person participation in the piece of truth being related.  

From your childhood through adolescence into adulthood, you have had fears, doubts, unfulfilled dreams, embarassments, victories, some grades of 100, some strikeouts, a home run, Many firsts, first night having moved from your parents house, first day on you first job. These experiences are unique with you.

I have discovered that my essays and book reviews that have had the best reception, I have started with my personal experiences. For example review of  Memoirs of a Geisha (2) was grounded in my childhood experiences during World War II and my adult experience with Japanese people. In my review of Never Let Me Go, (3) I shared the influence of my family in my formative years.

In an unintended history of The Twentieth Century, my intention was to leave my sons some notes about my experiences from my life that preceded their lives.(4)  I did not even recognize it as history until reviewers favored as first-person-history.

It had the ring-of-truth.

Charles Clanton Rogers, M.D.    September 30, 2015,              Please feel free to Reblog

References:

(1) The Writing Life – Annie Dillard – Paperback
http://www.harpercollins.com/9780060919887/the-writing-life

(2) http://therogerspost.com/2015/09/10/golden-geisha/ ‎

(3) http://therogerspost.com/2015/09/16/never-let-me-go-2/ ‎

(4)  http://therogerspost.com/2015/08/24/i-have-promise…before-i-sleep/

6 thoughts on “What To Write About? Annie Dillard Leads Us

  1. Faraday's Candle says:

    It is wonderful to meet you. Wonderful & engaging!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. clanton1934 says:

      It’s very nice to know such promising young people. I will be following you. ccr

      Liked by 1 person

    2. clanton1934 says:

      Are you acquainted with Mostly Blogging? If not, as a self-hoster, you might find it useful ®. It is run by Janice Wald who is a teacher and a mother and runs a web site with advice for bloggers. ccr

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bbnewsab says:

    I just stumbled over this blog post: http://mctuggle.com/2015/08/10/can-literature-heal/ .

    “If a nation’s literature declines, the nation atrophies and decays.” – Ezra Pound

    The blogger asks the following questions: Can literature heal? Is it possible to rediscover our humanity by freeing ourselves from our addiction to iPods, iPads, and shoot-’em-up video games, and instead spend our precious free time with good books? I think it’s worth a try.

    Do the members of this RWT (Readers and Writers “Tribe”) community agree or disagree? Let’s meet here in the comment fields to discuss/debate that kind of questions.

    Like

    1. clanton1934 says:

      Agree. I would broaden Ezra Pound’s statement to the Culture of Western Civilization. For at least the USA, our culture is not (IMHO) “national” but universal. Our literature makes little sense without a knowledge of literature beyond our short 239 year history and our meager portion of the World.
      Wrap your mind around that, gentlemen and ladies!.

      Liked by 1 person

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