Thursday, 4 April 2013

Told by an Idiot

Faulkner in Paris 1925 by WC Odiorne

   I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it. These humble words of American writer William Faulkner resound with the depth and sensitivity of his novel and short story writing.
   It made me wonder, is it because their thoughts are only clarified in writing, that writers feel compelled to write. Maybe that’s why many writers are not good at self-promotion and talking up their novels on promo tours. You need the gift of the gab to be an effective salesperson; do writers have the gift of the written word instead.
   When I first read Faulkner’s, The Sound and the Fury, I remember closing the last page and thinking, wow, how did he do that. It was one of those profoundly moving novels that imprint themselves on the psyche; long after you’ve forgotten the plot details, you remember that moment of revelation; this writer is different to everyone I have read before. I think it inspired me in many ways to want to be a writer myself.
   The novel is about the Compson family in a fictional southern county of the USA and is told from four different perspectives, each equally convincing. Faulkner’s ability to feel and then relate events from different points of view marked him as a future Nobel in Literature winner. It also indicated a lack of ego, something useful in a writer, but not so useful on a publicity tour. Though having said that, I have met many successful writers with massive egos.
   Faulkner also advised to write from the heart about things that matter, like Shakespeare did. That’s why the universal truths in Shakespeare’s plays still resonate. That search for significance and meaning in existence takes time to construct.
   As writers weave ideas from heart and mind to the page, shape-shifting thoughts into sentences, rewinding passages and playing them over again, their thoughts eventually clarify and what they really think emerges.
  Writers seek more than an instant opinion which is all too often told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

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