The Prompter Room

For Friday, July 13, 2018:

 

… Sound and light being associated in my young mind of fifty years ago with divine operations by means of which man communicates with man, beast with beast, stars with stars, and man with his Creator, it is obvious that I meditated much about the nature of sound and of light. I still believe that these modes of communication are the fundamental operations in the physical universe and I am still meditating about their nature.

Michael Pupin, FROM IMMIGRANT TO INVENTOR

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The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, July 3, 2018:

 

… When I’m sitting down to write a poem I’m not thinking of anyone. I’m not thinking about how it will be received. I’m not thinking it will make people happy or it will inspire them. I’m in a whole other world. A world of complete solitude. But when I’m writing a song I imagine performing it. I imagine giving it. It’s a different aspect of communication. It’s for the people.

Patti Smith – interview for More Songwriters on Songwriting at BrainPickings.org

The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, May 15, 2018:

 

[The artist] has only to translate the sufferings and happiness of all into the language of all and he will be universally understood. As a reward for being absolutely faithful to reality, he will achieve complete communication among men.

Albert Camus, ‘Create Dangerously,’ RESISTANCE, REBELLION, AND DEATH

The Prompter Room

For Monday, January 4, 2016:

 

“Only connect.”

E. M. Forster, HOWARD’S END

A friend shared a meme on Facebook with me yesterday that is a perfect description of the writing life.  The cartoon-type drawing from Snapshot shows a man at a typewriter, balled-up papers all around him on the floor and in the wastebasket.  Below the image is a description many of us know well:

“The writer: Someone who spends a lifetime in solitude for the sake of communication.”

As an introvert and a writer, I understand and appreciate the irony.  In fact, I’m willing to bet many of us writers are introverts.  So how do we connect?  Why do we even want to?

If you’re like I am, we love – or at least like – to connect with people, but for a limited amount of time.  I usually spend most of my time as an observer, even in situations and with people with whom I am comfortable.  I’m not being standoffish (or a wallflower anymore).  In fact I make it a point to make eye contact with as many people as possible and smiling or saying a word or two.

Rather, I watch and record in my memory various interactions among all the others.  Some of this is because I’m interested in people-as-people in something of a scientific mindset – how and why we interact with each other, or not – but I also want to remember as much as possible as fodder for fictional scene settings or possible character development in stories that are yet to be written.

The primary way we connect, of course, is through our words.  Not only do we and can we connect with others, we also connect more with ourselves.  Like the saying that we can’t love others before we love ourselves, so too we need to connect with ourselves before we can with others.  We become something of a Moebius Strip, weaving in and out of our own psyches.

Isn’t that one of the reasons we write, after all?  We need to observe ourselves, not as wallflowers but as active participants, and to do that, we need to write.  We need to communicate.

We form ourselves as the foundation for our words, and from our inner selves we build that base.   From there we can connect with others, and they with us, and then we aren’t so solitary anymore.

The Prompter Room

For Friday, November 6, 2015:

” … [A] book will remain what it has ever been: the most intense, private form of communication between two minds.  This special bond invests the act of reading and the act of writing with passion.  Inevitably it becomes a love affair or its opposite.”

Rita Mae Brown, STARTING FROM SCRATCH: A DIFFERENT KIND OF WRITERS’ MANUAL

As a child, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by books.  Both sets of grandparents had shelf after shelf after shelf filled with books in their homes, and almost every room in our own house overflowed with books.  I grew up feeling like these personal libraries actually hugged me, so much so it was almost a physical sensation.  What a blessing!

Everyone on both sides of my family were and are strong readers. Thanks to their example, their reading to me and their gifts of books, One of my earliest dreams was to have a book on someone else’s bookshelves someday.  I also developed an early relationship — a love affair — with books and the written word that has grown exponentially over the years.  Even when I was hurting or sad or angry, especially when I was lonely, I knew I could escape into the wide world of words that soon enveloped and comforted me, and I was transported, at least for a little while. That still works for the adult me, and my heart aches when I think of children who don’t or can’t grow up with that experience, that model.

It’s no wonder, then, that I essentially fell into writing.  At first it was unintentional — especially at six years old, when I wrote my first poem — I was just doing what was normal.  I thought everyone wrote something.  Based on the reactions and responses of others, though, even family members, I soon realized everyone wasn’t a writer.  At some point, though, I felt like I had a mission: I wanted to write, in part, so others could experience a similar relationship with books and words to the one I had.

Over the years, of course, there have been books and writings that were not as wonderful as the ones of my memories, but even those I didn’t like, or those I argued with or at which I got angry, made me think.  Why was I angry?  What did I disagree with?  What did the authors want me to think or feel?  Was my response what they wanted?

When I started writing for publication — even if it was an op ed in a newspaper (sometimes especially then) — I was just as thrilled with the readers who disagreed with me and argued with me as I was with positive responses.  I had made a connection, established a relationship ‘between two minds.’   Someone took the time and cared enough to write to me, privately or in public, because of something I had written.  I offered something that caused someone to, perhaps, consider a different way of thinking.  Their response(s) made me think anew as well.

Maybe a reader changed his/her mind, maybe not, but there was a mutual connection.  That is where and how the passion grows.  A new relationship has begun.  That, to me, is success.  That is why I do what I do, and that is why I hope you can and will, too.  I hope, too, that your own book — or its equivalent in another art form — will or does grace someone else’s bookcase to hug you and others.