CREATIVE WRITERS ON FACEBOOK
Creative Writers on Facebook (CWF) is a colony of dedicated writers, readers, and literary artists...
who love words, their multiple meanings, rhythms and sounds, and love to construct words, sentences and paragraphs into quality, if not artistic, articles, essays, poetry, plays, short stories, and novels.
Please join our group and contribute your talent.
Ask your creative writing friends to join us, and please share this post on your page. Thanks.
WHO IN LITERATURE?
What manuscript and author was rejected by a dozen publishers, including biggies like Penguin and HarperCollins. Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book. The book sold millions!
THE GREAT AMERICAN STORY
Peck, peck, peck goes the Underwood typewriter.
Peck, peck, peck are the sounds of little hammers printing on sheets of paper. Whether it was Faulkner, Fitzgerald or Hemmingway, the effects were similar: a story was unfolding to be read in Harpers, The New Yorker, or The Atlantic Monthly. This was the era of the great America story.
THE O. HENRY MEMORIAL AWARD
for the Best Short Story of the Year
Margaret Prescott 1919
Wilbur Daniel Steelle 1926, 1931
Dorothy Parker 1929
Stephen Vincent Benet 1932, 1937, 1940
Kay Boyle 1935, 1941
James Gould Cozzens 1936
William Faulkner 1939, 1949
Eudora Welty 1942, 1943, 1968
Irwin Shaw 1944
Truman Capote 1948
John Cheever 1956, 1964
Flannery O’ Connor 1957, 1963, 1965
Lawrence Sargent Hall 1960
Tillie Olson 1961
Katherine Ann Porter 1962
John Updike 1966, 1991
Joyce Carol Oates 1967, 1973
Bernard Malamud 1969
John Gardner 1974
Harold Brodkey 1975, 1976
Saul Bellow 1980
Cynthia Ozick 1981, 1984, 1992
Raymond Carver 1983, 1988
Alice Walker 1986
Louise Erdrich 1987
Lorrie Moore 1998
THE ATLANTIC: WRITERS IN COMMON:
From 1857 through 2014, James Russell Lowell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Greenlief Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Edith Warton, Mark Twain, Henry James, Sue Miller, Bobbie Ann Mason, James Dickey, Tobias Wolff, Sarah Orne Jewett, Dylan Thomas, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Graves, Albert Camus, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Paul Theroux, Ann Beathe, Raymond Carver, John Chevever, Louise Erdrich, Theodore Dreiser, William Dean Howells, Louisa May Alcott, W.E.B. DuBois, Bernard Malamud, Sylvia Plath, James Baldwin, Steven Vincent Benet, William Falkner, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr., have one thing in common: all have had their writings published, often for the first time, in The Atlantic (Monthly).
EARNEST HEMINGWAY'S SIX-WORD STORY
In the film, “Papa Hemingway in Cuba,” based on a true-life story, there is a scene where Hemingway picks a number between 1 and 10 to write a story of with that number of words. The reporter picked 6.
“For sale: Baby shoes, never used.”
Yes, writers, often less is more!
AMERICAN BANNED BOOKS…NAME ONE!
I bought a few books on fiction writing at The Full Circle Book Store at 50 Penn Plaza in OKC.
The lady there was wearing a badge reading, “We Sell Banned Books.”
I ask her to name just one book that has been banned by the general government of Obama, Bush’s, Clinton, Ragan or any other president.
She was totally lost for an answer! Then much later she told me that she knows of a public school, which has not stocked “The Color Purple.” That may or may not be true but it was her only answer.
And if you visit your local library, you will see librarians wearing a badge reading, “We Have Banned Books Here.”
Not every bookstore, library, or public school can buy every book that has been published and that does not equal censorship!
In the case of, “The Color Purple,” apparently a school made either a financial decision, or they figured that such a book was not age appropriate. Parents frequently make these age appropriate decisions for their children.
Censorship is defined as, “The suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, etc.”
Because a certain book is not bought by a public school, or even a library or a bookstore, does not qualify that entity as practicing censorship.
Censorship or banning books can only be directed by a very powerful entity like a government or a publisher of books.
Every year around this time the American Library Association promotes this banned book hesteria!
So, when you visit a library or a bookstore, ask them to name one book that has been banned in the United States? Watch their ignorance!
Will you name me one book, which, is banned in America?
ART AS DOXOLOGY
An Essay on the Meaning of Christian Art, Contrasting Christian Art with Good Propaganda
Francis Schaeffer, renowned orthodox theologian and philosopher, wrote, “A Christian ought to set out to make a work of art. That work of art can be a doxology!”
Elsewhere he writes, “A Christian should use these arts (writing, film production) to the glory of God, not just religious tracts, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. A art work can be a doxology in itself.”
Schaeffer was a lifetime admirer and critic of the arts to include the art of writing. He believed his faith, our faith, should permeate every facet of life. He wrote, “If a man is to be an artist, his goal should be in a lifetime to produce a wide and deep body of work from which his worldview will show forth...The artist makes a work of art, and then the body of his work shows his worldview.”
Recently a number of Christian films have been produced by Sony grouped as, Affirm Films. There are other producers in this field as well. I wish to make a few points.
First, there is clearly a large audience who are fed up with many of Hollywood’s trashy, half naked, f this and f that movies and are hungry to watch uplifting, wholesome, family-friendly entertainment. That audience, especially parents with maturing children will grow. I am pleased that these people have an alternative like Affirm Films to watch instead the negative caliber of films coming out of Hollywood.
Secondly, most, if not all, of these Affirm Films, and other films like them are good propaganda movies. They have excellent messages, which inspire their audiences. Please understand that propaganda does not have to have a negative connotation. Propaganda means, “Information deliberately spread widely to help or to harm people.” These films are obviously designed to help people.
Some of these films even place a few scriptures throughout the story to underscore their source of inspiration. Make no mistake; these family- friendly films are propaganda, good propaganda to be sure but propaganda just the same.
Janet Kobobel of Zondervan admonishes the artist to, “Write from a ‘Christian’ worldview as opposed to writing Christian material…the bans on what can be said in Christian material often lead to forced conclusions and black and white depictions of life.”
Or as Allen Arnold, founder and Publisher at Thomas Nelson Fiction says, “Don’t use ‘Christinese’ language and inadvertently reduce the power and mystery of God to quick pithy answers.” Kobobel and Arnold seem to have the same understanding as Schaeffer.
Thirdly, and this is my concern as an artist who is a Christian: Please understand that I am not a Christian artist or a Christian writer, I am an artist or writer who is Christian. There is a difference here. It is unfortunate that novelists, short story writers, and screenwriters who are Christian feel they must write or produce films, which are overtly, not subtly, Christian. It seems that these writers have given up on the true art of film writing and producing.
Last point and my Christian friends can challenge me or accuse me of apostasy: films and all creative writing must first and foremost be works of art, not works of good propaganda.
A work of art can have a Christian theme and content, that’s great, but that content must not be so obvious that it is in your face. When that occurs, it is no longer a work of art. A reader, or one watching a film, must subtly draw in the Christian message; otherwise, one is watching or reading a dramatic religious tract.
Allow me to give an example: if one goes to a play and makes the comment that the lighting was great, the lighting was, in fact, not great at all. The audience should never be aware of the lighting because lighting creates the mood of the play without drawing undue attention to itself. The same is true with valid works of art.
And there are excellent novels and short stories, which display a Christian worldview without writing propaganda. And there are many films, which are works of art like, “A Man for All Seasons,” “Amazing Grace,” “Shadowlands,” and “Chariots of Fire,” to name only four. We need writers and producers such as these, writers and producers who are Christian.
In libraries and video shops we will see Christian Writing or Christian Films as a genre. The fact that such a genre exists betrays the thoughts and philosophy of Schaeffer, Arnold and Kobobel.
In conclusion, I will again quote Allen Arnold; “There was no ‘Christina fiction’ in colonial times or even 100 years ago. In prior days, Christians simply told great stories from their worldview---but their novels weren’t labeled Christian fiction…we’re out to reclaim that ground.” And that has been the purpose of this essay and my mission as a Christian writing fiction and poetry.