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Guest Post: Why Write, How to Write, When to Write by T.J. Gillespie (Tom na gCapaillín)

posted 2 Mar 2013, 16:50 by Oscar Duggan   [ updated 7 Jul 2013, 14:39 ]
T.J. Gillespie (aka Tom na gCapaillín). Horseman and author.
Writing is a release of creative energy. Talking about what I am going to write dissipates that energy.

Writing is a means of communication. Literacy as in speech, sign language, (gestures), painting, sculpture, music. Speech has a long pedigree; proficiency has traditionally been valued and honoured. A successful orator would have possessed and cultivated certain skills and mannerisms.

It is commonly believed that writing gives you, the quieter, more sensitive soul, a voice. So let you write. Let the Inner You write of some incident, some idea, some thought in your mind that won’t go away. Seeing it in your mind's eye, write about it as graciously as you can, choosing words that flow, that glow with colour; a line or two of poetry that fits the occasion. Yes and things were put nicely in the Old and New Testaments which are relevant still.

When you have put your very best effort into it the reward comes. "The world is a good place." Now you are smarter than you think.

"I can do better"

Listen for an idea phrased differently. 'Why didn’t I think of that?' you say to yourself. Listen as aphorisms, succinct expression, folklore spring to mind to ‘cap’ an otherwise ponderous thought. Pure gold if appropriate.

Writing is basic humility: a feeling that 'this world is such a huge fascinating place it’s great to have a niche in it.' Such feelings are a requisite for the true artist: he or she values the judgement of ‘ordinary’ people; does not 'play down' to their level. The writer will seek greater insight into life, aware that for fulfilment, it is sometimes necessary 'to swap the swivel chair for the bumpy road.' A funny thing too, with practice you will learn those stratagems for difficult situations - 'to wrap up a thing’ or to show tolerance in reviewing a book without compromising integrity. 

And when progress is painful, remember there were and still are places in the world where writing is dangerous.

Creative Writing

This is where you are telling a story, describing an incident, a person, a place to excite the interest, curiosity, empathy of the readers. 

Let yourself go a stage further. To effect the outcome of an event by evoking sympathy for a cause has a greater chance of success if viewed to be free of personal gain, power, position and has an element of fair play. 

A ‘flash’ of inspiration is needed: a ‘flash’ of inspiration ignited by some strong emotion (fear, revenge, admiration, human sympathy) to make the writer shed his or her everyday 'skin'; slip underwater to the 'cavern' of sub-conscious experience and scribble away to order, in no time returning to the 'real world’ where the heart will say, "Well done: I couldn’t have put it better myself!"

That is creative writing, I think!

Postscript - The Actual Thing

With eyes closed 'see' in your mind what you want to 'say'; in particular the important aspects. Now lead in with the 'light touch'. If you must use the sledgehammer in the heat of battle, do so as winningly as possible and glide out without triumphalism! (An example from the Old Testament - "My father chastised you with whips; I will flay you with scorpions." 2nd Chronicles, 10:11)

After allowing to 'ferment', a day is usually enough, re-write, improving sentence, paragraph design and 'colour' tone of ideas.

Allow a second fermentation before filtering out dross and 'sediment'. It’s looking pretty 'clear'.

Even as you are presenting it to the editor of the parish newsletter, local paper or chairperson of the writer's circle, you will see one or two thing's wrong with it - perfection is the work of the Gods, as the old Greeks would say.


T.J. Gillespie (aka Tom na gCapaillín) is an author and avid horseman. He has shared a lifetime of insight and experience in his successfully published, I Want to Really Learn about Horses. First published in 2010 it has since been through several re-prints and is also available in e-book editions, all of which are available to buy online.

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