Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why do you need a blog? By Odilia Rivera-Santos

©2011 by Odilia Rivera-Santos

One of the best reasons to have a blog is to connect with people and you must pick a topic you live and breathe, otherwise, your posts will be too infrequent to matter. I have chosen to focus only on writing on this blog, as being an author is my primary source of spiritual, intellectual and creative joy.
For those who would like to be writers, one of the simplest pieces of advice I can give is to create a reading and writing schedule. Sometimes, people say they are too busy to read; President Obama reads. I think he's really busy.
Nothing can replace a breadth of knowledge in topics that really matter to you.
If you are a poet, studying poets will enhance your poetic skills even if you spell skills with a "z." Variety makes your personal statement as an artist more interesting and universal. Most of us seek to connect with people outside our immediate circle.
As a writer, I don't only want Afro-Puerto-Rican-born-in-Puerto Rico-raised-in-the-Bronx-educated-at-a-fancy-college-with-a-degree-in-comparative-literature-and-a minor-in-creative writing-published-in-fancy-journals-only-fancy-professors-read-whose-father-worked-in-the-sugarcane-fields-with-parents-who-had-an-elementary-school-education-translating-researching-poets-novelists-reading my work. That would be boring.
I love variety in my reading and in my readers; it's nice to know people in Australia and Spain read my work and one woman who sent me an email didn't know what Puerto Rico was.

AUTODIDACT OR FORMAL EDUCATION?
I am an autodidact with a formal education and feel both are equally important. One thing we've lost in our strive for individualism, in the U.S., is respect for mentorship. I had wonderful literature and poetry professors who were very talented writers as well. Having a person who has studied Cervantes for thirty years to facilitate a discussion of his work is valuable and the professor learns from students. The neophyte presents a fresh perspective to add to the professor's primary source file. I am a proponent of taking writing and literature classes or being part of an organized group in which there is structure, assignments, regular attendance, etc.

The Informalities

Observing daily life is wonderful but there is no background story to fill in the blanks; we can observe certain habits of ethnic groups with whom we are unfamiliar but not know the roots of certain patterns. As a writer, I always research anything I find interesting without thinking of a specific way to apply new knowledge. I do research on a new topic and the information finds itself into my writing. Characters have more depth if the writer does not just write details in a perfunctory manner and the character's thought processes, speech patterns and trajectory will be more authentic with some background knowledge.

Who are you in the writer spectrum?

Loner - unarmed -- I hope, joiner, tangential participant

There are certain aspects of writing that are negotiable; for example, some people love writing groups and choose to write in groups for years and some people, find an occasional writing workshop to be very useful.
I could not be a lifer in a writing group but have found writing workshops very useful.
I consider writing workshops to be akin to therapy.
The first couple of therapy sessions are intense and frequent until you cough up the emotional hairballs. After those initial sessions or months of sessions, depending on your situation, the therapy customer reaches emotional stasis and returns to therapy sessions for the occasional tuneup.
This is how workshops work for me; I like writing workshops for the occasional creativity tuneup -- to see my ideas connecting with others and to enjoy the spontaneity of writing exercises in front of strangers.
I did hard time in creative writing workshops for two years in college and found it extremely useful for internalizing my editor.

What is the role of an editor?
In my humble opinion, a great editor reads and asks questions and a terrible editor makes changes.


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2 comments:

  1. Dear Odilia. Thank you so much for sharing. I can totally agree with your point of view. I am a starting writer. I write poetry, children literature and short stories.Up to now I published two poetry books and two children's books of the series of Bencho in Papiamento. I would like to add some personal thoughts;I think there are also writers who write to share and writers who write to keep for themselves. Some people think that the keepers to themselves have not enough self confidence to share. I don't agree. On the other hand I know some people, who write, but who never read. Personally I tend to start a discussion when I hear this, because I really cannot understand, how someone can pretend to write and never read. I read a lot , all kind of books and writers. In the first place, because I have always loved reading, it gives me so much pleasure. I experienced too that reading gives me a broader platform for mine writing. In 2007 I started a reading promotion project in Aruba, where I live and was born. Bon Nochi Drumi Dushi aims to share the pleasure of reading with kids. The main purpose is reading home visits to provide kids and parents with tools to read. Regards Olga Buckley

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  2. I think to complete the art of being a writer, a writer must share work -- just as a play requires actors and an audience to be complete.

    Thanks for reading, Olga!

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