Living Abroad

Why creative writing?


Why Creative Writing? A common question I have been asked as I get busy with college applications.

Here’s my thinking. Our body is made up mostly of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, etc., and when we die, our bodies will decompose and become worm-food. I want something, SOMETHING I can leave behind that says who I was and what I cared about… and share the knowledge I have gained in life with the next generations.

I believe that written works can be very powerful — the author’s thoughts and feelings, even if he has been buried hundreds of years in the past, can continue to effect change, shape the present world, and set new things in motion.

I look forward to learning from the best educations in the field as I pursue a career that will advance my passion for written works. I want, primarily, to be an author of fiction books and continue to expand my opportunities to write newspaper columns. My first published article was at age 9, when the then editor of the Daily Advocate Newspaper in Greenville, Ohio, Mr. Bob Robinson approached me for an article. He wanted a youth’s perspective on Independence Day. My article became the lead story, top half of the front page of the newspaper’s “Special Independence Day Edition” in 2003. I never stopped writing since then.

While I am interested to test my skills in various genres such as producing a movie script, psychology and history books, I must profess my love for fiction. Why creative fiction writer? What is it about the world of make-believe that draws me closer to it than becoming a journalist or biographer?

I believe that it is very hard to be impartial in writing. There have been many books written about Christopher Columbus. Some paint him as a hero, the explorer that opened the door to American democracy, yet to others he was just another misguided idiot, who spent his dying days still believing he had found a western route to the Indies. There’s probably some truth to all those claims. The crew of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria all had flaws, just like the people sitting in comfy chairs centuries later who felt they had the right to write about them. There is none of that confusion in fiction. The author is “god” of his own universe and is therefore able to speak basic human truth, disguised as fantasy. Orson Scott Card said it best: “I think that most of us, anyway, read these stories that we know are not ‘true’ because we’re hungry for another kind of truth: the mythic truth about human nature in general, the particular truth about those life-communities that define our own identity, and the most specific truth of all: our own self-story….”. And if my dream becomes reality, I hope to unveil my first fictional novel, “The Problem with the Prophecy” hopefully as I head to college in 2012.

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  • Jao Romero

    you like using a lot of words ending in “s” huh?

    i guess they don’t teach grammar and style in your creative writing classes, do they? also not very familiar with preposition use, are you?

    you could do with more practice, training, and oh, take a class in brevity and clear writing.

    “Why creative writing?” and “Why creative fiction writer?” are incomplete sentences, not to mention redundant. all fiction is creative, so there’s no need to qualify it as “creative fiction writer.” saying fiction writer will do. A complete sentence would be: Why study creative writing? Or: Why be a fiction writer?

    fictional novel, again, is redundant. all novels are works of fiction. no need to qualify it as fictional. if it isn’t fictional, it’s simply called non-fiction.

    you are also very patriarchal in your use of pronouns. he, him, his – use gender-neutral pronouns. babae ka pa naman, dapat di mo na ginagawang male-slanted ang articles mo. i could go on and on with the edits in this articles, but i’ll simply say: you need more practice.

    • TheGUM

      “Why creative writing?” consists of three words compared to “Why study creative writing?”  Brevity?  Then, “Creative writing?” is more to the point.

      Anyway, Jao, Petr Kropotkin’s death anniversary was February 8.  So, my anarchist salute to you.

      I’m not a writer, btw, even though I can write.  Elizabeth, if you haven’t come across these yet, I recommend:  Essentials of Style by Strunk and E.B. White and Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. 

      Keep writing!  And I’ll keep reading.  Thanks for sharing thoughts (active verbs and direct to the point?, hehehe…a Pinoy way of expressing pleasure).

      “The Problem with the Prophecy.” Nice one! I like that title, very much. Thank God, more young Pinay/Pinoy writers! Honestly, good luck. Pulitzer, Nobel for Pinays/Pinoys…someday, di ba?

      Oo nga pala. Linh Dinh is a US-based writer I really like. One of his books, Love Like Hate, I have yet to read. I read his columns regularly on CommonDreams and Counterpunch. I think you’ll like him. He has taught Creatve Writing in France and the US. Like you, he has Asian heritage, Vietnamese. Really, really interestin’ insights, he has.

      • Jao Romero

        you need to be clear as well as concise. writing incomplete sentences isn’t particularly being clear. When you say “why creative writing?” you’ll be asked “Why creative writing what?”

        that phrase can lead to so many meanings. why creative writing is better than non-fiction writing? why creative writing can help lives? why creative writing should be studied by everyone…

        “Why creative writing” is an incomplete sentence and an incomplete thought and to say that is part of brevity is to make the stupidest of excuses. in short, palusot. instead of achieving brevity, you’d be compelled to launch into an even longer explanation as to what exactly that phrase means.

      • mega chat

        hi TheGum!! it’s Elements (not Essentials) of Style by Strunk and White. Good book. I’ve been using it as reference since way back when :)

    • peach black

      I like how you try to impinge yourself on other people. As if your shape is the only one that fits the writing on the wall. Hija, huwag kang makinig sa mga epal. Study the works of established writers. Read. Read. Read. Then write all the way to your grave and ignore the kibitzers.

      • Jao Romero

        if you didn’t notice, i didn’t criticize her style or her voice but simply her grammar and verboseness. good grammar and brevity are basics of writing that all good writers follow. if she doesn’t heed what i tell her, other editors will just tell her the same.

      • mega chat

         peach black, i agree with Jao’s comments. And I think someone like you
        who posts comments similar to the one below (which you did recently),
        also needs to learn some gender-sensitivity in writing and, I believe,
        in “real” life as well:

        on Welcome, Sulô Riviera! last week is this Cuevas thingy a tranny?

    • mega chat

       sadly, Jao, many writers and reporters (as well as non-writers in ordinary life) are still not gender-sensitive even in the use of words

      • Jao Romero

        it’s something that has to be done consciously, you see. when ppl read me, they think i”m female because i’m very strong on using gender-neutral pronouns. usually, only feminists really stick to using gender-neutral pronouns. most male writers insists on using male pronouns or worse, sometimes just doesn’t care about this issue.

        that’s why it’s really sad that even female writers automatically use male pronouns and don’t use gender neutral ones. they’re automatically giving up their rights and admitting writing is a male-dominated world. maybe it is, but we need to start recognizing that in cases of unidentified subjects, it is better to use gender-neutral pronouns. 

        gusto kong turuan ang mga readers na masanay na gender-neutrality is the norm and not the exception. i’d like to live in a word of real equality, and not in a world that is still very patriarchal. my favorite writer is a woman, and she writes stories that not only break common misconceptions about gender but really shows what a world of real equality is like. they’re beautiful stories.

      • mega chat

        jao, good to know you’re a man (and a writer) who believes in gender equality. and, btw, “gender equality” or “gender fair” is better to use that “gender neutrality” cuz you establish right away the “equality between the sexes,” which is what you are aiming at. and also, please take note that not only feminists are using the “gender neutral” pronouns but now we include the gender advocates (or gender equality advocates) among them, who are both women and men (of course, there are also men who are feminists, if we would use the “feminist” term). and, from what you wrote, you’re a gender advocate yourself, i’m happy to note :)

  • hopelovefaith

    Maybe “Why creative writing INSTEAD OF TECHNICAL WRITING?”  If not creative writing, what other type of writings are there?

    I appreciate your writing for someone like me.  I like to read simple sentences similar to the quality of english on the Reader’s Digest magazine.  Take the comments here as constructive which will guide you as you pursue your goal.  You’re still young and you can accomplish more.

    Take care.

  • Anonymous

    This is Elizabeth Horner. I’m glad that my article has inspired such an extended discussion on Creative Writing in general. I take the comments as not being designed to wound, but rather to help me improve my chances of being successful in this field. While I am aware of the “errors” identified, I hope to become an author of children’s books and children’s stories. I find the habit of talking simply hard to break at times. Short, incomplete sentences are also a style trick I have seen used again and again by authors such as James Patterson and Rick Riordan— to great effect, I might add. Jao, you seem to have adopted some of the methods used by e.e. cummings (who never capitalized anything). I’m a high school student who is still finding her voice, her place in the adult world.

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