Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Writing

Anyone here like Barbara Kingsolver?  *raises hand*  She did an interview with Goodreads recently, in part to promote her new book, and the interview transcript is fabulous!  She has some great gems and insights about writing and culture, how trends in writing have changed over the past thirty years, and much more.  I quote one nugget as my gchat status message, but it's cumbersome.  A nice nugget for a blog post is the quotation below:

"The essential ingredient of authorship is authority."
It sounds easy, obvious, but it's so true.  In order to write, you  have to own your material and your subject.  That's not to say that if you feel unknowledgeable you shouldn't try to write.  Write.  Always write. But don't be afraid of research.  Don't be afraid of reading everything you can get your hands on.  Read from a diversity of sources.  Learn how to discern which sources are good and which are not.  Weave them into your story.  Be entrenched in your ideas, and you'll find that your words can mystically write themselves.  To push that idea, build a foundation of information ideas and then empty your mind to let the words flow through you and onto the page.

Authorship as authority is true not only of fiction-writing, as I know many people are attempting with National Novel Writing Month.  It is also true of academic writing.  In freshman composition courses, students are learning about discourse communities, which is just a big scary word for specific conversation among people with similar goals.  John Swales can give you more details at the wiki site.  Basically, students need to enter the discourse community by learning about it and then practicing.  Dive in, or at least wade.  That's how children learn language, and that's how most of us learn anything.  It's ad hoc and intensive and beautiful. 

No comments: