“Now from memory experience is produced in men; for the several memories of the same thing produce finally the capacity for a single experience. And experience seems pretty much like science and art, but really science and art come to men through experience…
With a view to action experience seems in no respect inferior to art, and men of experience succeed even better than those who have theory without experience.”
My editor says that I am somewhat prolific. One former publisher said I am like a story machine—put in a quarter and a story comes out. I have not particularly felt or functioned that way for some time now. Not that I have been idle, rather I have been learning to handle the new tasks associated with publishing while maintaining my role as a writer. It’s a balancing act, albeit a lopsided one.
Publishing cries the loudest and most insistently, but writing speaks a deeper more satisfying language. One is a means to an end, the other a source of inner contentment. I think that is commonplace among writers.
For every story told there is an experience—and according to Aristotle—an associated memory the author shares with the story. Writing what you know is not the ability to call up the multitude of trivial facts floating around in your head. It is being able to touch some memory connected with emotion that will resound to those reading it.
Shared experience is at the heart of all art. It is the force that drives the artist to their work. It is also the thing that grabs the witness to their art.
It is of necessity then, that a writer is able to touch the entire spectrum of stored memory and experience. Drawing up emotion from a deep emotional well can be a painful task. I find myself tearing up at times just hearing those tiny fragments on the page being read. Reading them aloud for someone is out of the question.
Some people say this kind of emotional retention is unhealthy—keep the memory, lose the emotion—they say. Given the tragic lives of so many writers, I would not argue in favor of health. I would argue in favor of masterpieces and the notion that writers may simply be a rather sick lot, to begin with.
Perhaps, theory-based modern attitudes account for the callous socialism prevalent today. It may also serve as an explanation as to why so much modern writing is formulated, culturally divisive, and devoid of inspirational experience.
Fortunately for me, I am old. I not expected to value the “change is everything” that is the hallmark of modern theoretical intellect and innovation. This thinking is nothing more than a lack of experience and it is evident in its absolutism. Two words that have no real validity when applied to humans are Always and Never.
Experience with the uncertainty of human emotion and action makes for the stuff of fiction that runs as far afield as imagination. Writing begets writing, and the experience of writing beats the thoughts about how to do it.