The Heart and Soul of Writing
Not to tell on anyone or any group, but my contemporaries these days have a lot of knowledge and opinions of the writing business, especially to new or aspiring authors. For instance, besides looking at my social media feeds and researching various writing sites, the budding writer can be deluged with a flood of information, advise, chastisement all written by us who are the ‘professionals’ in this field. I can understand if this is intimidating for a first time author or writer. Luckily, the great writers don’t see it the same way we mere mortals do.
I took some time recently to write down a few notes from Rod Serling who speaking in sixteen video interviews with a group of students in a college in New York state, went over his thoughts and opinions about writing not just for television, but in general. Some of the comments made that struck me were the following (paraphrasing):
It’s story that counts, it’s heart and feeling, it’s reality, it’s legitimacy, authenticity, honesty
It’s the capacity for the printed word or spoken word to move you – these are the key things
If you can get across your own idea, get it across
If you have the climax first – build the house around it
The instinct of creativity must be followed by the act, the physical act of putting it down for a sense of permanence
Get it down, get it down quickly, write it down
The clue to the writer, (in terms of an idea) don’t let it die in the head
All writers are born, never made
Observation is key in life of writer, paramount
One can create as long as he is ingenious, novel, different, imaginative, opposed to sedentary
The writer broadens, becomes deeper, more observant, more tempered, becomes more wiser over a period of time passing
There were a ton of quotes – insightful, important, poignant and sincere that I heard from Mr. Serling in those clips. Granted, there were much more I could have shared but decided the few posted would be enough. In our microwaveable 21st Century world where everything has to come fast, it has to come now, the mentality of ‘the grind’, the focus of looking at the art of writing as a ‘game’ cheapens the importance of what it really is all about. One constant I get from Mr. Serling’s discussions with the students is that technique is important, but too many good writers get caught up in it and cannot produce the idea, the storyline with the proper emotion, lacking the heart and feeling for it to be told. The creative tale or story must find a place on the page, despite the comma splices, run-on sentences, etc. Those can be cleaned up and sanitized later. The idea for a killer plot may suffer however if too much emphasis is placed on mechanics and not on the substance of the story itself.
No doubt Mr. Serling’s beliefs of the art of writing will be debated, but given his pedigree, I seriously don’t believe any of what I saw in those clips will be refuted. This is not to excuse badly written literature – the type which has seeped its way into the shelves of many a bookstore – but a future legitimate bestselling author may have his or her career end by our increasing (and somewhat ridiculous) standards of what they should be if they are to assume the title of writer, novelist, and author. It takes a certain passion to become a writer, a dedication that requires a standard from the inner scribe, not from the outside world.
When I view these clips, I see a man, a very talented and celebrated writer share his thoughts and tips with a group of young writers who at that time, wanted to learn from him. I’m sure whatever advice he gave them was invaluable. Sadly, except for a few, that type of openness is all but nonexistent today from more gifted bestselling authors willing to lend their less experienced counterparts a hand. However, Mr. Serling was an individual who in other interviews I’ve seen, didn’t mind expressing his views on writing or the genre of science fiction with a friendly smile and without being condescending towards those not on his level. Perhaps that’s why even after forty years after his death, his stature still stands tall.
I would advise young or aspiring authors to learn and watch from a mentor who will take the time to help them grow and develop their ideas, style, and technique. While our literature can be improved, so can our attitudes towards those who are just beginning to get their creative feet wet by sitting on their desk and typing out their hearts and souls in front of a keypad or laptop. This art of writing requires a freedom of the mind that we should allow these up-and-coming scribes a chance to create. Let’s give them that opportunity without weighing them down on technique – at least for the first draft.
Authors N Focus Extra