Saturday, October 12, 2013

Week 8:authorial presence: problem/situation/question/explanation piece

Here's something I found on the internet about authorial presence.

Six qualities of author's presence: sincerity; self-revelation; creativity & innovativeness; intensity; interactivity and use of poetic devices.

Whew, that's a lot to think of when you write, but some of it should be more or less automatic or should come from the material itself.

Sincerity should be more or less automatic. I hope no one is intentionally writing bullshit they think is bullshit but is good enough to get a frippin grade. That would be insincere.

Self-revelation is a function of the material, and what you choose to write about. Once you have a topic, then there is an obligation to pursue the material and not skip away from the truth of it, but there are truths and truths, and none of my assignments is called 'The Stupidest, Cruelest, Most Embarrassing and Illegal Moments of My Life.' This course is not Self-Revelation 101. You, the writer, control your material.

Creativity and Innovativeness? Nice if there were a dial and you could crank up a higher level of both when needed! They're automatic or not, but, as I say, not anything you can crank up on demand, unless you are one of those writers (I'm not) who thinks that drugs or liquor are helpful for inspiration.

Intensity...I'm not sure about. Intensity sounds to me like a tonal issue. You perhaps want your piece on your deployment in Iraq to be intense. Not so much your piece about learning a nursery rhyme about buttercups.

Interactivity and the use of poetic devices. I understand what the writer is after but I wish she had avoided 'poetic devices" because sometimes I get writers addicted to awful similes--thinking that they are what make 'fine' writing--,and I would hate to encourage more of 'her beauty struck my eyes like a sledge hammer striking a Chinese gong' or such like nonsense. But the writer is trying to tell us that the reader is not some kind of passive receptacle. The writer has to enter into a conversation with the reader, has to get him asking questions as he reads, laughing at jokes and saying, 'Yeah, I get that, I see where you're coming from, but have you thought about...oh wait, uh HUH--you have! " And so on. One way to start that conversation is with poetic devices--symbols or motifs woven through the writing are often very intriguing.

But it's not something to plan out, or at least I think that if you do, the writing becomes a little mechanical.

So, authorial presence: it's more than voice and tone; it's your whole self. Does the reader get a sense of what you are like? Does the reader find you interesting, obnoxious, funny, stupid, aggravating, likable? Same questions any two people meeting have about each other. That's your authorial presence.

Your job this week is to read the lecture, think about it, and say to yourself, 'No way can I ever inject "authorial presence" into my writing, Goldfine!' That's okay, but don't stop thinking about it--as long as it's somewhere rolling around in your mind, you will unconsciously be working on it every time you write.

As for the rest of it for the week: problem, situation, question, explanation...those I take to be self-explanatory.

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