Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Writer's Best Friend and One Hell of a Singer

I thought I'd share a quote I've recently come across by Isaac Bashevis Singer (not to be confused with the inventor Isaac M. Singer): "The waste basket is a writer's best friend."

A great quote that I think is meant to emphasis this: Do not fear deleting or erasing your words (or paragraphs, or pages!); they're not golden. In the end, this kind of trepidation could just slow you down. I know this very well. In fact, I had an interesting discussion about the art of deleting with some colleagues. Many of them save their excerpts at the bottom of the page. A good strategy, but I've developed a keen eye for what fits, or could fit, and what needs to go before it slows me down any further. Writing is your creation, and if you're not happy with something, don't try to force it to work or fit it into what your doing - delete! Unless you honestly think it could be used elsewhere, it will only decrease the value of what you're writing, and slow you down. Words are meant to be deleted. (How's that for a quote?)

I've also subsequently read a bit about IB Singer, a Jewish writer noted for his short stories, whose life story I find quite inspiring. He was one of the last prominent writers of the Yiddish language. Quite a life he lived, escaping persecution and Nazi threat in Poland in 1935 - the Nazis invaded Poland, initializing WWII, in 1939. (I guess the plan of appeasing Hitler and giving him the Czechoslovakian land he demanded in 1938, as Lebensraum for his ethnically German people he cared so much about, didn't work. Go figure.) Singer emigrated to the US and made a life for himself here with virtually nothing. It's just amazing to me that, despite his gift (winning the 1978 Nobel Prize in Literature), he could never have had the success and freedom he's had in the US in his native land. If Singer's life teaches us anything, it's this: The arts, creativity, and certainly humankind do not flourish but in fact deteriorate and will likely die leaving behind nothing more than a soulless pit in a society that is preoccupied with war, power, and hate - an important lesson for these times, indeed.

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