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Sunday, October 1, 2017

You're On Your Own_IWSG post


“No one can build you the bridge
 on which you, 
and only you,
 must cross the river of life.”
-  Nietzsche


 “The true and durable path
 into and through experience
 involves being true … 
to your own solitude,
 true to your own secret knowledge.”
- Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney 


We live in a Pavlovian culture of constant feedback, 
in which the easiest and commonest opinions
 are most readily rewarded, 
and dissenting voices 
are most readily punished by the unthinking mob. 

So when we write we must ask 

if we wish to be popular when read or to be true to what we feel is best in the human condition ...

to be a pioneer or to be one of the herd.


To be a writer is to feel authentically, 

for that is the only way to write prose that touches the inner person of the reader.

 Why? 

Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, 

you're a lot of other people: 

but the moment you feel, you're nobody-but-yourself.

 To be nobody-but-yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, 

to make you everybody else - 

means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.




As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, 

that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn't an author can possibly imagine.

 Why?

Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. 

We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time - 

and whenever we do it, we are not authors but cookie cutters.


“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. 

 So bleed that one true sentence, and go on from there."
- Hemingway


We are modern Argonauts -- 

The Argonauts 
(Ancient Greek: Ἀργοναῦται Argonautai) 
were a band of heroes in Greek mythology, 

who in the years before the Trojan War accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. 

Our Golden Fleece is to write the best prose of which we are capable. 

So good fortune, 
my fellow Argonauts,
the prevailing winds 
are against us.  

But as authors, we know that it is the struggle that makes the adventure.

26 comments:

  1. We have to connect to others while remaining true to ourselves.

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    1. If we write prose that breathes authenticiity we will do both I hope. :-)

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  2. Thank you for quoting Seamus Heaney! As a poet he was a true hero--people came out of their houses just to pay their respects as his funeral cortege passed across the country. Clearly by being true to himself he captured the universal voice.

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    1. It is a shame that so few people currently appreciate or even know about his fine poetry, isn't it? Thanks for sharing my enthusiasm for the poet. :-)

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  3. Ah, this is so true. Thanks for this powerful reminder, Roland. After going through slaughtering edits on my short story collection, I fear I have lost some of that authenticity. Trying to balance edits, my individual voice, and not worry about what 'the reader will 'think' is not easy. I need to hope the reader feels and doesn't think while reading my stories. I'll be thinking about your post for the week.

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    1. Thanks so much, Lisa. The truly great authors write to the heart and if an individual reader does not get it, then he or she is not their target audience. :-)

      I am currently writing a crime thriller, not to submit, but just to grow outside my "box" :-)

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  4. And the struggle...is real to write what people like, but to remain true to self! Connection can be binding, and I don't like to be bound or trapped. :)

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    1. Me either. But for me, connecting is merely understanding another bruised soul. :-) Thanks so much for visiting and caring enough to chat for a bit.

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  5. Hi,
    Your last sentence touched me deeply. "But as authors, we know that it is the struggle that makes the adventure."
    This is so true.
    All the best.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. Louis L'Amour wrote that adventure was just someone having a terrible time! :-)

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  6. I love seeing writers as Argonauts. We must be brave and true. Good fortune to you too!

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    1. Greetings, fellow Argonaut! Brave and true is hard no doubt, but being the opposite just leaves us running aground! :-)

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  7. Being brave is one of the hardest part of writing. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Being true (authentic) is no walk through the garden either! :-)

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  8. Very wise words, including what Nietzsche had to say. I haven't read his works in 40 years. Maybe? Thank God for IWSG. We are in this together. Thank you for your moving words, Roland.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and liking what you read. Sandra used to say I was the only one she knew who still read Nietzche, William James, Maslow, and Marcus Aurelius!

      Speaking of old Aurelius, I am currently writing a crime short story where the sociopathic protagonist uses his Meditations as an external compass since he has no internal one! :-)

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  9. You're right. The commonest opinions are always rewarded, and anything out of the ordinary is often punished. That's human nature for you. Could we change it? Maybe a tiny bit at a time. Maybe...

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    1. If we try to chip away at our own flaws, if only a little bit, then perhaps we could make our corner of the world a bit better? Thanks so much for visiting! :-)

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  10. You write such thoughtful posts, Roland. Love the Nietzsche quote. I didn't know Kennedy and Roosevelt were swimmers--cool!

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    1. Kennedy swam to help his back, and FDR swam for the only exercise he could get what with his polio. Thanks for the nice words about my posts. They are my poor man's Meditations AKA Marcus's suburb ones! :-)

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  11. Oh the courage to stand out from the crowd! That’s what the world needs. It seems at present that the harder folks try to be individuals the more they’re ending up in new groups that tell them what to believe.

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    1. John F Kennedy wrote in Profiles In Courage: “A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality.”

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  12. It's so good to visit here again, I missed you. I hope you are OK since this was posted a while ago. The hurricane must have been awful where you are. You are thoughful and true here and that's of course who you are. A very special man.

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    1. Thank you so much for that, Inger. The hurricanes dumped work along with rain on this area -- plus we are working with helping Las Vegas and Nate's victims. Whew!! :-)

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