Friday, June 17, 2016

Stories and Other Lies
Fun With Quotes

So how, exactly does one have fun with quotes?
Glad you asked! If you’re like me, you start by exchanging quotes on a daily basis with your best bud . But not just any quotes, writing quotes, to give each other inspiration. And then you pick the two best quotes of the week to share with the rest of the world - because ... why not? :-D

If the quotes I’ve been featuring seem to be a variation on a theme, there’s a very good reason for this - they’re supposed to give us inspiration to write. I think the fact that we’re able to find such a huge variety is points in our favour.

We usually send them in the morning so we have the whole day to be inspired by them. And I don’t know about Jamie, but I don’t read the one she sends me until I’ve sent hers - I don’t want it to influence which quote I choose. One of these days I fully expect we’ll send each other the same quote - we’ve already sent a quote by the same author on the same day (two different quotes though).

Jamie’s quote this week is another short and sweet one. I admire the way she seems to be able to ferret out the ones that cut right to the chase:

To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.
—Allen Ginsberg

This is a great piece of advice. Many creative writing teachers over-emphasize the need for budding writers to find their “voice”, that elusive thing that makes their writing unique and recognizable. But the problems arise when too much time is spent trying to be unique instead of striving to write the best story possible. You may end up with a unique voice, but nobody wants to listen to it.

I’m not saying that finding your voice isn’t important, but don’t let the search be so all consuming that you forget about the writing. Focus on the writing, on telling the story only you can tell, and before you know it you’ll find your voice without even trying.

Once again, my quote kind of goes with Jamie’s:

A lie was something you told because you were mean or a coward.
A story was something you made up out of something that might have happened. Only you didn't tell it like it was, you told it like you thought it should have been.

― Betty Smith

Again, you’re telling a story that only you can tell. The story itself makes you a writer, the way that you tell it is your voice.

I like to tell people I tell lies for a living. What? It’s true - I make things up and people pay to read them. Writers make the best liars. We exaggerate, we twist and mold the truth and present it in such a way that the reader never knows what’s real and what isn’t. That’s our job. We take lying to a whole new level.

Writers are liars, my dear, surely you know that by now? And yet, things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot.
― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country

No comments: