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Writing From Experience
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Although it is a few days old, I want to call your attention, to a post by Barbara Klaser in which she reflects on how how we process things that happen in our personal lives through our writing and artwork.

As I commented, some writers think they require a wealth of exotic experience to draw upon. But we all have a huge amount of experience -- any brain activity constitutes experience -- and the secret might be not so much having exotic experiences to process into fiction as processing our mundane experiences in exotic ways.

Then too, what we experience to begin with depends on what we observe. At any given moment there is more going on around us than we can possible take in and different people absorb different things, have a different point of view. It probably helps, if you write, to be able to pick out interesting details that wouldn't necessarily be what most people would notice.

Besides, no matter what experiences a writer might have had, they need to be reduced to words -- symbols -- which readers then translate back into mental images. And to do so, readers have only their own experiences to go by. I've never seen the Grand Canyon, for example. If a writer describes it, I might to picture it as being like the Genessee River gorge at Letchworth State Park in New York, where I've been, but much much bigger.

In a sense, the reader's experience shapes a piece of writing more than the writer's.

Of course, I could always picture the Grand Canyon described by an author as being like a photograph of the canyon I'd seen.

I wonder how often we translate the words we read in books into images derived from television or movies, rather than images from our own lives? Which presents the further question of whether readers experienced books differently before television, movies or photography, gave them a wide range of vicarious experience? Is that part of the reason early novels tended to be longer and more laden with description?

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