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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

#IWSG -- Whipping Post

      
          First Wednesday of the month means another edition of Alex J Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.   You can discover more participants here.

   


        Those of you not familiar with the Allman Brothers Band will probably miss my allusion in the title of this post.  But as I was considering that I was going to just whip this post together very quickly, I couldn't resist the title.  Dates me perhaps, but is great music ever really dated.

         Likewise is good writing dated?   Can a novel like 1984 be appreciated if that date is past?  Or the wonderful novels of the Jazz Age or the quaint stories of Charles Dickens?   I believe they can.   I believe that a well told story holds up no matter when it's been told.  The language may be arcane to the modern ear and maybe some footnotes will be needed, but the human condition is timeless.

        Sophocles, Chaucer, and Shakespeare may seem antiquated to some of us, but the messages they convey are just as relevant to us as they were to the audiences of their eras.  Do the stories I tell speak to generations to come?   Am I striving to be heard now or forever?   I fear I may be forgotten.   Or perhaps not fear, but expect.   Relevance.   I must strive for relevance.


        What is your writing goal?   Will anyone care about what you've written one hundred years from now?  Do you care?

          Since I brought it up, here's a clip of the Allman Brothers "Whipping Post" for those who might be curious or just feel like hearing it.



   


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29 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to say Lee but I didn't get the reference although you do learn something new every day and I hope I can be excused since I'm just 19.

    I think that it depends on the book and how relevant it is whether or not we view it in a good light for a long period of time after it's became outdated. I mean one has to simply look at the works of Shakespeare to realise that well written books can have timeless relevance so long as we learn to adapt and appreciate that they were written in different times.

    It'll be interesting to see if today's current books hold up in the long term, great thought provoking post man.

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  2. I enjoy reading Dickens.
    Will someone read and enjoy my work twenty years from now? Probably not, but that's all right.
    Thanks for participating in the IWSG, especially since you've been on the road!

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  3. Our work might not end up having relevance to the world at large but I would love it if it has relevance to some. Imagine someone years from now, remembering something that we wrote, something that touched them, that moved them, that made them laugh or scared the pants off them... Love that thought of that. :)

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  4. I am afraid I would never have gotten the reference either.

    My writing goal: 1) Make much of our glorious God and the Lord Jesus Christ; 2) to edify the people of God.

    First God will care, and secondly I think godly people will care because they will find benefit, comfort, edification, and because it points to God.

    I care deeply for the above reasons.

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  5. Really good writing, like good music will stand the test of time. Thanks you for the clip and taking me back to my childhood for a visit to my old self, sitting on the bed, listening to the radio.

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  6. Those are great self-exploration questions. So important. I think finding those answers grounds us, gives us direction and focus.

    Love the post!

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  7. I do know the Allman Brothers, but didn't know that song. I don't believe my writing will survive beyond my lifetime, but that's okay. I'm learning that if I touch one person with myself, my words, my song, that's okay.
    Karen

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  8. Some stories transcend time. I loved being an Eng Lit major because I got introduced to so many beautifully told tales that have lived on for years and years.

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  9. OMG Lee! This is a post after my own heart! First of all, with everything that's been going on here lately, I had totally forgotten that today is the day for the IWSG posts, so, thanks for the reminder! I will 'Whip' something up pretty quick here...it may not be a lasting piece, but it'll be something.
    Whipping Post is one of my favourite songs....love love love it, and I got the reference immediately!
    Also, most everything I read is from some bygone era, not so much Dickens or Shakespeare, but Wilde, Chekov, Camus and Dostoyevsky are favourites...I do occasionally read something 'modern', like something by David Sedaris, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Franzen or Margaret Atwood..
    I agree...great music is great music and great writing is the same, timeless. The human condition has been the same throughout history I think...just the details have changed. Basically, we are still a bunch of 'cavemen', only we have computers now...our brains are the same as they were a thousand years ago, and I think our emotions are the same..
    ..great post Lee, such an interesting theme! Gotta get to work on my IWSG post!

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  10. In the words of Flannery O'Connor, "A serious writer would gladly swap 100 readers now for 10 readers in 10 years or one reader in 100 years."

    I think we'd all like to think our work might reach the hands of denizens of the future. But for now, I think we should just focus on telling the best story we can. If the talent and hard work is there, the rest will hopefully fall into place.

    J.W.

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  11. Personally, I want people to still be reading me 100 years from now. 400 years from now. Whatever.

    You should stop by Cally Jackson's post today. I think you'll find it interesting.

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  12. Yeamie -- I appreciate having younger readers like you to stop by to read my blog on a regular basis. It's kind of like writing to future generations.

    Alex -- I almost forgot to get this post together since I was traveling, then remembered in the motel room Monday night. Glad I did it then as Tuesday was a tiring day.

    Madeline-- I think most writers now are most concerned with current audiences and that makes total sense to me.

    Gregg - Those are the ultimate reasons in my opinion.

    Liza -- A visit to happier times in the past is always nice.

    SA -- It's good to strive for universality and high quality. The end result of those ideals is something of lasting value.

    Karen -- One person at a time is ultimately where creativity is aimed.

    Jemi -- I too appreciate the guidance from school classes that introduced me to things I might otherwise have never discovered on my own.

    Eve -- I'm like you. I like to go back to the greater things of the past that have proven track records more so than following every current rage that will be forgotten a few years from now.

    J.W. -- I think you're right. Besides, you captured my attention with a quote from my favorite writer.

    Andrew -- Great post by Cally. I was there earlier and left a lengthy comment that must have gone into her spam folder. I then emailed her to let her know. I hope she finds the comment to release it.

    Lee

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  13. You pose a great question. If we're talking Dickens, there are impportant historical lessons beyond the story and characters.
    I often discuss with our school's literary department about why they have kids read the same stuff they've been reading for decades. Because something is old, doesn't make it good. I think some of it turns the kids off to reading.

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  14. I don't think anyone will remember my work in 100 years, but as long as it inspires someone today I'm okay with that.

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  15. I don't think I will be remembered in 100 years, but I would like to be remembered a week after my book comes out. :D

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  16. I love this song (what was your post abut again?). I remember as a young kid this was one of my transition songs from The Monkees to rock and roll. Not sure if this was a good or bad thing. But I turned out to be a huge Allman Brothers fan.

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  17. I think my publishings are forgotten two days after the announcement, so I doubt I'll be immortalized in the archives of the classics. Oh well; this life is enough to worry about :)

    .......dhole

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  18. Susan-- Classics are usually considered classics for some good reason. I think sometimes the challenge of reading in an unfamiliar writing style is too much for some readers.

    Ciara -- To inspire or inform readers now should probably be our most important goal as writers.

    Mel -- I'll take a week!

    Stephen -- The Allmans were like music central where I lived at the time and "Whipping Post" was like an anthem.

    Donna -- There is plenty enough to be concerned about in the here and now.

    Lee

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  19. If I try to write to an audience 100 years now, I think I will crumple in my inadequacy. I have to focus on present: tell a good story. If some how the social context gives it a place in history-- wow. Wouldn't that be something?

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  20. I really should read Dickens - my first husband did a one man Dickens show at the Dickens House in London for many years.
    As for writing ambitions - I would be happy just to be able to say that my children had read all my books.

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  21. I think if someone tries too hard to be relevant, they'll ultimately fail. Relevancy comes from speaking from what is real and roiling within, not from trying. That's what keeps it relevant - speaking honestly of the many facets of the human condition, which never change. Not really.

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  22. I don't know if anyone will care what I've written 100 years from now. But I keep writing to produce something care-worthy. I want my writing to help others like it's helped me.

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  23. Julie -- I think it would be absurd to write for an unknown audience. We need to supply current consumers and hope they like what we produce.

    Lizy -- Yes, you should probably read at least one Dickens novel seeing how he made such a mark on literature. It would be nice to leave a legacy at least for our children and theirs.

    Nicki -- I agree. I don't think there can ever be a formula for relevancy especially when it applies to future generations. The writing would probably come across as pretentious or something.

    Theresa --That's a good philosophy to adhere to.

    Lee

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  24. I just want to people now to think that I wrote a really good story and they're glad they read it.

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  25. Good writing is good writing, no matter when the work is consumed.
    The other day I read an article about how a YA author I'd loved reading now has to go back and revise some of her books to incorporate the use of technology, like IM, into her stories to connect with today's teen audiences. In my opinion, her books stand perfectly well on their own and don't need any updating in spite of the time difference between then and now.

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  26. Hi, Lee,

    I have to agree with you, a good sorry is timeless. I LOVE the classics. A one of the major reasons is to be able to feel what it was like living at that time.

    Hopefully our stories will stand the test of time. I believe many contemporary stories will because what we are all going though during "Our time." People Will want to know what life was like during the mid 20th Century to 2012.

    I would hope some select readers would appreciate my writing and art. If it's good enough, it will. Let;s hope it is ...

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  27. Carol -- That's what we should strive to achieve and whatever happens after that is just an added benefit.

    Cynthia -- Nowadays with the rapid developments in new technology a writer could be spending all their time revising old writing.

    Michael -- I hope you are remembered by future readers as well. I guess if you get enough books out there something should catch hold.

    Lee

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  28. Classic stories are timeless. Not arrogant enough to think my writing is at that level, but thank you for making me think about what I want to accomplish with my writing and whether the message will resonate for years.

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  29. Good fiction can be appreciated even if it's dated because it contains themes that are timeless. Good triumphing over evil...personal freedom...love -- those things will always matter.

    Great post! :)

    IWSG #179 (At least until Alex culls the list again. :P)

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Lee