Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 18 February 2017

THE HOLY GRAIL OF WRITING by Victoria Cornwall

I was driving my car the other day, whilst keeping a lookout for deranged drivers and wild animals with a suicidal desire to become my next road kill victim. I am not being melodramatic here. After decades of driving on country roads, I have come to the conclusion that animals line the grass verges to wait for my car to come along. Anyway, during my journey the lyrical, haunting tune of Send in the Clowns came on the radio. A melancholy atmosphere descended as I absorbed the sad, beautiful lyrics sung by Judy Collins. I was about to start blubbering into my steering wheel, when I was saved by the DJs next choice, The Eurhythmics collaboration with Aretha Franklin, Sisters are doin' it for themselves. Suddenly the world seemed brighter and I felt empowered. I finished my journey with a big smile on my face and a slight bounce to my driving. Within a short space of time I had swung from normal, to deep sadness, to feeling extremely happy ... and it got me thinking. 

Music is the end result of someone's creativity, just as a painting, a poem, a book or a beautifully crafted statue or figurine. There is an endless list of how a person's creativity can manifest, but I suspect that all creative people strive to do the same thing ... to evoke a feeling, an emotion, a reaction from those that see it, feel it, use it or read it.  

Painter, illustrator and sculpture, Richard Artschwager, once said, "There isn't any art until some creature sees and consumes it. And has a reaction." Perhaps that is what drives us all. I know many writers will say that they would write even if no one ever saw what they had produced, however, I suspect the majority of writers have a desire to share their craft with like-minded people who will hopefully enjoy it.

A successful novel will evoke a reaction in a reader. Some novels will take a reader through the whole range of emotions. The transitions between these emotions and reactions may be sudden or deceptively subtle, gradual or a non-stop fast ride where the reader hangs on by their fingernails. Hopefully there will also be the odd moments of reflection or relaxation to make the next stage of the story all the more stimulating. A reaction a writer does not want to evoke is boredom or frustration with the plot or the characters within the story.


I believe that the holy grail of writing is to evoke the emotion that the writer intends to evoke, at the precise moment they planned it to happen, at just the right momentum a reader wants or needs. When a writer hits those markers, they have been successful in their quest. However, in my opinion, it is not the reader who has the greatest reaction in the end … it is the creator ... for they have achieved what they set out to do, and that is a euphoric, heady experience that cannot be matched.

By
VICTORIA CORNWALL

Do you agree that evoking emotions/feelings/reactions in a reader is The Holy Grail of writing? 
Can you recall a particular book which evoked a strong reaction in you?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

10 comments:

  1. A most e4xcellent and thought-provoking post, Victoria. I agree that art of whatever sort can give the reader/viewer a reaction over many emotions. I picked up on those who write for themselves, published or not. Many - although not all - artists of whatever type also pursue their art for money. We were talking about this in our writing group this week. At first, it's just the thrill of our words in print, and then money enters the equation and you find yourself on the hamster wheel. Now, if only I could paint I'd paint for pleasure and write for, well, the dosh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Linda. I think we probably all start out writing for the thrill of creating something, but at the end of the day the bills still need to be paid and earning enough to pay them (whether it is through writing or having a second job) remains a priority.

      Delete
  2. Ver interesting post Victoria. And so true - we all seek for that Holy Grail. Now you have specified it so clearly I'm hoping it will be that little bit easier to achieve!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Agree wholeheartedly! Sometimes when I need to evoke a certain emotion, I will listen to a track that makes me feel like that. Creativity feeding off the creativity of others. Recently used 'Dancing on my own' I guess you can imagine the sort of scene I was writing. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a good idea, Morton. I will have to try it sometime.

      Delete
  4. Such a wonderful, considered post, Victoria. Music and film most definitely hold the potential to evoke strong emotions in me. As soon as I hear the opening lines to Abba's 'Slipping Through My Fingers' I'm a blubbering wreck! And great writing is the same - it pulls the reader, making the reader feel ... and care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, music can set of strong emotions. Today I heard The Rolling Stones "Under my thumb". It has an upbeat tempo, but the lyrics are actually about a man finally gaining control over his girlfriend. How has he done it? What has made her change so much? Why does she dress differently? Why does he refer to her as a squirming dog? Why does she do as she is told now? All I can think about is physical and mental abuse. I feel quite sick listening to it, yet it is very popular and has a catchy beat. The contrast between the upbeat tempo and the sinister lyrics is genius as the real message is not always heard ... just like domestic abuse.

      Delete
    2. That completely passed me by, Victoria. I must listen to it again. As you say -clever message.

      Delete
  5. I totally agree that music can help with writing. I actually prefer to write in silence, but whether I'm in the car or listening to music at home, ideas do flow more easily and I make a note of them so I can use them later. Thanks for your interesting post, Victoria.

    ReplyDelete