Saturday, July 07, 2007

When the Pen Flows

I've just been thinking about the website I started a few months ago called When the Pen Flows. There have been a few contributions, and I am excited to have at least some people reading my old stories. My writing has been encouraged, as well.

The idea of the title comes from those moments when writers get an idea, and they can't eat, sleep, or do anything else. If they must put the pen down, they pick it back up at the first opportunity so that they can finish getting the story on paper before they forget. Maybe math geniuses like those in Proof experience the same urgency.

Inevitably, the pen will stop flowing. The idea will hit a wall, and the writer can rest. In my experience, many of those great ideas were bursts, windows into a world of a story that I can never visit. Another window will catch my attention, and I'll put it onto paper. The glimpses are no less beautiful than the whole. Is it lazy to stop when you hit the wall?

Writers need practice. I can see this in the folders and journals full of my old stories. The oldest are the worst. They reflect the limited education and experience and imagination I had at the time. And lack of practice putting images onto paper using words.

That means that the later ones are better. Putting the little windows onto paper, rather than ignoring them forever in search of the one idea that will be a complete novel, is important. Without that practice, when the book plot hits our imaginations, our skills will be unequal to the task.

Michael Card, in his book Scribbling in the Sand, writes that creativity flows from community. I have noticed that when I read a good book, I become inspired. So the dream I have for When the Pen Flows is that it would be a community of aspiring authors (whether they aspire to be better at expressing themselves or if they dream of being published) who read each others' little works, and share their own, in order to benefit from the shared genius.

Let us hope that the world will be bettered by noble-minded people equipped to share their ideas with it, through training and practice, encouragement, criticism, and inspiration.

I close quoting Mansfield Park on the topic of communication: "The subject of reading aloud was farther discussed. The two young men were the only talkers, but they, standing by the fire, talked over the too common neglect of the qualification, the total inattention to it, in the ordinary school-system for boys, the consequently natural - yet in some instances almost unnatural degree of ignorance and uncouthness of men, of sensible and well-informed men, when suddenly called to the necessity of reading aloud, which had fallen within their notice, giving instances of blunders, and failures with their secondary causes, the want of management of the voice, of proper modulation and emphasis, of foresight and judgment, all proceeding from the first cause, want of early attention and habit; and Fanny was listening again with great entertainment."

To God be all glory.
Thanks to Snapshots of Joy for the graphics.

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