… since we’re on a Sherlock kick.
Escapism is exhausting. The internet is too much with us. The constant social media updates, the flashy colors and loud noises assault us to distraction; the inexhaustible link-to-link-to-link-to-link linkage leads to nowhere, but down a black, bottomless pit into cyberspace. It does not satisfy; it does not truly delight. It only empties the mind of thought, stuffing the great gaping hole with psychedelic mist that melts as soon as the sensual and sensory experience has past. It unwrinkles wrinkles and disconnects connections and throws cold water on firing synapses; when it is gone, the mind is left blind, supportless, feeble and fragile and frantically searching for something to grasp. But nothing is there. There is nothing. It is empty. It is void. It is null.
Having recognized this (as so many do these days), a good mind, a diligent mind will strive towards a particular goal. Instead of escaping from reality, the mind must escape to reality, to the comfort and solace of true substance, true meaning. The mind must lead the body to do good. Why do we continue to do nothing? Why are lives spent and time wasted? Why is so much energy expended on passing, temporal trivialities? Why am I still scrolling through [insert social media here] after an hours’ worth of redundant memes I scrolled through yesterday — and the day before? Why am I not devoting my life to a purpose, to something I hold near and dear, to something that will do some good in this world? Ridiculous the waste sad time …
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Many literary amateurs — in the original sense of the word — take this quite to heart. I really shouldn’t say “they” but “we;” I’ve done it myself, many a time. But when the reader finds some style of expression, some use of language, some plot device or character or setting that speaks particularly to him, naturally he wants to keep it. He wants to hold it close to his heart, bury it deep in his soul, feed it and nourish it and allow it to grow, let it spring upwards towards the light of day again, in his own colors and into his own sunlight. He wants to re-create, according to one who has already created something beautiful and truthful and good.
The truest way to re-create a masterpiece, however, is to study that which the first artist studied. It’s easy enough to read Agatha Christie novels and try to formulate a murder mystery according to her plot patterns, but what first inspired her to write? What books did she read to gather her ideas? Jane Austen’s seemingly-facile turns of phrase and lovable characters may be read and read again, but nothing will make a new Regency-era story come to life until we familiarize ourselves with Anne Radcliffe and the Brontes as well. A true Tolkien imitator should, in theory, not only read Tolkien, but read Norse myths and Arthurian legends and Beowulf — in Anglo-Saxon.
Well, that’s all rather daunting, isn’t it? But I should dearly like to try it.
Love it 🙂
Excellent thoughts on fantasy.
Sometimes, when your head hurts and your bills pile up and your muse is on holiday (again) and the other members of your household are making enough racket to wake the deaf and the world is crashing down upon you … sometimes, the only thing to do is pray.
We all understand the concept of “prayer;” when we pray, we communicate with God. When we pray formulaic prayers, such as the Our Father, we speak to God; when we pray “freestyle,”* we [try to] speak with God. A lot of “freestyle” prayer requires humble listening. We have to stop our “please, God, may I have … ?” and say instead, “I’m listening.”
As writers, however, how do we pray? Writers have difficulty listening. They train themselves to focus on words, and so they hear very well, but it is difficult for them (us) to stop and truly listen. They listen to people’s words, and they use those words to make sense of the world around them. They listen to the voices in their heads to make sense of other people’s words. God doesn’t speak in words, however — or at least, not to the average writer. God speaks in conscience and virtue and soul; He doesn’t communicate in tangible or even definable methods. Perhaps this means that sometimes a writer must stop being a writer and be only a pray-er. To be prayer itself? To offer oneself as prayer? Is this possible? Is this thinkable? Am I still acting as a writer and over-thinking something again?
Sometimes, the only thing to do is pray.
And sometimes, the only thing to do is pray and listen to Gregorian chant and promise yourself another episode of “Sherlock” if you get a blog post written.
* Is there a theological term for this? Also, a nod to Mere Inkling for subconscious non-divine inspiration for this post 🙂
Autumn mornings belong to writers, I think. The milky sweetness of hot tea and the crisp crunch of dewy air from outside an open window combine to hit that sweet-spot of the senses, filling one’s nostrils and lungs with a forceful rush of hot and cold. Within an easterly room, the sun blinds the eyes with more brilliance than Gandalf’s reincarnation, filling the little kitchen — nay, stuffing it with light and light-ness, pushing its way through the darkness, building up shadows along the sides of the cabinets and cupboards until the shadows have squeezed so tightly together they begin considering diet options.