Wednesday, December 22, 2010

From Luke's Gospel

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove above the H...Image via Wikipedia
When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord  (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: 
“a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. 

When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,  
Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
   you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
   and the glory of your people Israel.” 

Luke 2: 22-32*

*The New International Version of the Bible
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Originality in Literature and Art

Treasure: the person C S Lewis
"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it." --C. S. Lewis

 "You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body." --C. S. Lewis

The quote themes links with Lewis's views expressed elsewhere that emphasize the art of living fully, without "cleverness," and that every human we meet, whether we like them or not, is a living soul. In the nonfiction works of Clive Staples Lewis, these are among the many expressions and concepts that remain with me. I see them linked in this way: Man, male and female, is an original and the highest concept of creation, a living soul made by God. What "originality" and life we have as humans is derived from the Origin of all things. (Great discoveries, we know from biographies, seem to have come unexpectedly through the living seeker--scientist, artist, inventor, e.g..-- in an inexplicable moment of "Aha!"clarity or understanding.)

Especially for writers, the soul of the writer inserts itself, if only between the lines. It happens. In my opinion, that is true for fiction, as well, where being "original" is expected. But originality must be explained like this: think of how many stories are variations on different themes familiar for ages. Literally. What ensures originality from a skilled writer is that the person behind the writing is "an original"--a unique, individual human soul.

As far as style is concerned, have you ever tried to write what look like simple openings of well-known American authors, such as Hemingway, only to find how hard their simplicity was to do well and...well, originally?

Getting back to C. S. Lewis's quotes about the soul or souls...think of how many books sell because they mention soul in the title? Chicken Soup for the Soul series is an easy example. Before that, and maybe the inspiration for the Chicken Soup writers, were "soul food" and "soul music."

Joining originality and meaning, God put into Man, male and female, something meant to last--a soul. I think there might be not so much weirdness to suggest a soul DNA, for each soul, like each person, is similar to others and yet uniquely able to relate to God...or to be ignored or starved. Meanings in all of this are worth  exploring, for the soul's value is suggested in sayings like "He sold (or nearly sold) his soul for that deal," very like the words, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

And there's Faust, a frightening, dynamic soul story if ever there was one, and inspiring its own variations by other authors. 

How to give originality to themes like soul, heart, love, life, meaning, risk, obsession, mystery....? There are endless questions for the writer to choose, puzzle over, or get writer's block from. Yet it keeps getting done. 
To ease the mind about being "original" there is the advice to just write. Begin to fill a page on a theme you've already thought through countless times. Write it your own way, in your own style, and with its own needed balance from your heart, life, mind... while, as C S Lewis said, telling the truth. Truth runs through the best writing, including fiction.


CS Lewis quotes: Source
Updated/revised from Advent to year-round: 6/11/12 
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Deadline: 31 December 2010

Photo from CityLit Website-2009 Winners
Maryland Young Writers' Contest Looks to Break Record
Entire article from CityLit Project website (emphases added below)-posted 10/15/2010

This year marks the third annual Maryland Young Writers' Contest sponsored by CityLit Project and Baltimore's Child.  In 2008, we received 400 submissions. Last year, we received over 900 submissions.  Come on teachers and young writers, let's not just break 1000 this year but push for 1500!

Young authors, poets, and playwrights need a forum for their work and Baltimore's Child and CityLit Project have teamed up to offer these young people the audience and recognition they deserve. Each fall, the Maryland Young Writers' Contest for students in grades 3-12 as well as home-schoolers recognizes outstanding short stories and poems in three age groups: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12.

Prizes are offered in each category and first place winners are published in Baltimore's Child. All winners are invited to read their entries at a local Barnes & Noble in the spring. Pictured... [above] are some of the winners from last year's contest who read at the Barnes & Noble Inner Harbor.

Deadline is December 31, 2010, so get writing today!
The interior of the Barnes & Noble located at ...Image via Wikipedia

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