Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

Malek Jandali – Piano Dream; مالك جندلي حلم البيانو


Malek Jandali – Piano Dream; مالك جندلي حلم البيانو

Malcolm D B Munro
Thursday 10 August, 2017

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Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

Take the writer


The writer emerging into the profession of writing, in all its many forms of interest to him, with ambitions to make a living from his efforts, wishes to find his voice, that which is distinctive, authentic, and is of his true self. The writer, as a starting point where we explore this topic of emergent artists into their chosen field, written of in previous posts, cannot write at all unless, and until, he has knowledge of himself, and of how he might express it. He is going to make errors, write less successful pieces, some of which are going to jar him and his intended audience alike. You might say this is akin to relearning to play the piano after many years of little or no practice in public. Of course, no one in their right mind would tolerate such a situation. How awful  would be the experience. But a blog is different. Is a public arena where mistakes and fumblings are par for the course. It is the nature of the medium. No one expects every blog writer to be superb and widely sought after, gains a huge and wonderful audience all but overnight. Some write in a manner which appals certain audiences and they will never go near such blog. They may be self serving, written by people who have never grown up and do not wish to do so. Such people cannot be called writers and never will be such. Such people lack self awareness, the first prerequisite of a writer, as noted above.

In writing one learns by doing. No writing school on this earth is going to teach you how to be a writer, far less a good one, never mind a successful one. One does that on one’s own. Should you have the skills and knowledge for writing got from any of those workshops and classes, such tedious things, filled largely by those who want to write but who have no talent nor drive to do so, those rudiments will serve you well. The rudiments of writing, the skills required are hard earned, and workshops and classes serve well to equip a person desiring to write, seriously write: If you have the patience for them and they are led by someone who is competent to do so. You cannot learn this craft from the web, nor from books for dummies. No writer of whatever kind is a dummy.

For writing, like any field of human endeavour, worthwhile activity, is hard work, and the basic knowledge of it, to gain a real footing in it.

One learns by practice just as the pianists. The writing skills are practiced every day. Every day without fail. The nature of the human requires this. Any professional runner, as an example, will tell you this. Now, one does not to be an obsessive driven with a kind of manic insanity, though it may, heaven help such people, but a reasoned, thoughtful approach where one is conscious of what one is doing.

This finding of the voice is not easy. No examples of other writings efforts can serve. They may act as influences but too readily and anxiously taken aboard will result in the newly emerging writing in him or her being derivative, an imitator. This suits some and not others. If such a writer is not ambitious and does not or is willing not, to strive for higher levels, will be content and accept the results of his labour. He sells and that is what matters to him. For no professional writer, let us be clear about this, wish to not gain an income. It may be little and may supplement other income. But no writer, a professional writer worth the name, works for free, or seldom does, only with specific non monetary gain in mind.

As in the mastery of music writing and reading, for the composition of music spoken of in an earlier post, so for the writer. At the very least the use of commas, and all punctuation and the like have to be mastered. No editor is going to tolerate a writer careless or unschooled in such things. Editing any and every writer is already hard enough. Editors work against deadlines, usually with an overabundance of writer with whom to contend. They simply do not have time nor patience for the incompetent. No judge in a full session court would tolerate an incoherent lawyer unable to represent his client. His client would not be pleased either.

One does not wish to extend the length of any post unduly. After all, future posts can carry extensions of the topic. Let us consider the case of a writer who wishes to develop as a fiction writer. Rare would be the case where that writer wrote the equivalent of War and Peace as a first work. Writers usually start small, short stories. The would be fiction writer, if he is realistic, will recognise that the first efforts will be risible and editors will return manuscripts or not at all. Either way the attitude of the seasoned publisher and editors behind them will be, “Don’t waste my time.” They may say, if you are lucky, “Try again later when you have developed your craft.”

Those of who write blogs are lucky, perhaps the word is fortunate. We do not have to write in small, cramped rooms, with little heating, and little food to put upon the table. We can have jobs and live in comfort while we sweat and labour to meet the requirements of that publisher, that editor, who know what sells and what does not.

Every writer wishes to write successful books, books that sell and make a lot of money. For a writer with such goals and aims who does not, I wonder what he is.

Here, in front of you and me, is a remarkable medium. Look at the Huffington Post.

Oh, and patience; the writer learning to write, needs patience, as in any of the arts.

Malcolm D B Munro
Thursday 10 August, 2017

Filed under: Arts, Book Review, Current Events, Media, Memoir, Music, poetry, politics, stories

Where we are


Coming into the arts in all its manifestation at this stage of life has many facets to it. When one comes with a life time of experience, knowledge and fully developed skills, one  has a position in the field which is not the same as a beginner starting out in life. There is an adjustment required during which one finds one feet and gets one’s bearings. A large part of this is getting to know the landscape and the nature and attitudes of the people within it.

It is one thing to be admirer of the arts, even to be a spectator and follower of the arts, whether it be music, visual arts and so on. But to come into the arts area with a view to being a professional is an entirely different matter.

Any one person in such a position will have at their fingertips a wide range of interests, skills and talent, which previously have not been active or have only been trained or schooled in, akin to a Sunday painter. The attitude and output are vastly different from that same person who now wishes to be, or is, a professional.

This position that the person finds themselves in may be likened to pathfinding. Not exploring which is done only for its own sake. A pathfinder is seeking to settle but is unfamiliar with the terrority and, if people live and are active there, what their mores are and their outlook in. One might find oneself in a Renaissance court hired and supported by the Prince because he, the Prince considers this new hire to be worthy of his attention and money. In other words this Prince may act as supporter and mentor. This newbie is bemused by all that he, or she, finds around him or her in this glittering court. There seem to him to be artists, painters, sculptors, musicians of enormous talent, creating works which are hailed throughout the length and breath of the land and beyond. There is recognition and acclaim for such people. The newcomer thinks, “This is all familiar to me but in a strange way. I have been here before but it was in a dream.”

The Pathfinder knows he had a wide range of talent, skills and creative spirit, but has never had the opportunity, or maybe circumstances, to exercise these. He cannot plan or set goals for the moment because these talents and skills have never been exercised in the professional sense.

His first step then is, like a body builder flexing his muscles, to dicover the nature and extend of his talents. To try these across the length and breadth of his interests and preoccupations. In the life of a dilettante he has alway been aware of these and maybe even had encouragement and recognition of them. For example, he may have been told, “You have instinctive journalistic skills,” but due to the circumstance prevailing as he stepped out into the world such opportunities were not available at the time. The process of becoming a journalist is a long and hard one, and has to be embarked upon immediately on leaving high school or university. It is not possible, nor desirable, to start at a later point in life. He has a career already in which he has already gone through what is essentially an identical development and training. Unless you are very fortunate indeed, you do not come into journalism, let us say, as a fully fledged scientist, let’s choose that profession, as a point of reference to the topic being discussed here, unless he brings to this professional an adeptness in communicating the knowledge of his field for which there is a demand in the market place.

But there is another dimension to all this, this stepping into a new field at a later stage of life. The people skills that an already fully developed professional has gained through the school of hard knocks has to learn different skills, different ways of communicating, has to understand how interactions take place. For each field of human endeavour has its own. A judge’s might be similar to that of a lawyer where there is a continuity, even a natural progression. But were the field to be entirely different, an actor becoming a forestry manager, the interactions of foresters are going to be different from those of the acting world. This may be an improbable scenario but it serves to highlight the point. Among the many adaptations the actor will have to make is one of language for which earlier in life he may have trained for. But, as surely as the sun comes out each day and the moon at night, the language of Shakespeare is different from that of dendrology.

The artist has trained for this new field and this talented newly emerged artist already knows the language from his prior study as an amateur. He simply has to practice it.

This is where we stand.

Malcolm D B Munro
Thursday 10 August, 2017

Filed under: Current Events

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