From My Commonplace Ebook – #historical past #conspiracy
** The time period “Commonplace Ebook” is sort of historical, and comes from the Latin locus communis, or “frequent data.” Aristotle and Cicero each mentioned the follow of gathering and organizing sententiae, or “smart sayings” or quotations from philosophers, poets, dramatists, and the like, and the checklist of nice writers and thinkers over time who’ve assiduously stored their very own Commonplace books is spectacular, together with e.g. John Milton, John Locke (who went so far as publishing a information to the follow, entitled “A New Technique of Making Frequent-Place-Books), Thomas Jefferson, Erasmus and Charles Darwin, Emerson, Thoreau, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Thomas Hardy, . . .
Considerably to my shock, it turned out to be very useful for my very own writing; the follow of merely copying out well-written passages, just like the follow of memorizing texts, forces one to dig a bit of deeper into, and to suppose a bit of bit more durable about, precisely what the writer is doing and why the passage works in addition to it does.
I’ve properly over 500 entries in my ebook, and, skimming them over just lately, I discovered a substantial amount of attention-grabbing stuff in there that I believe could be enjoyable to share. So over the following few months I will pull one thing out and submit it each few days, maybe with a (temporary) commentary on context, or on what I discovered significantly alluring in regards to the excerpt. I believe—or not less than I hope—that a few of you will discover it attention-grabbing and illuminating.
This looks as if a very good place to start out:
The great Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996, was, from 1968 to 1981, the (nameless writer) of the Literary Mailbox column within the Polish journal Literary Life. It was a type of “Expensive Abby” recommendation column for aspiring poets and novelists, during which she would reply readers’ questions on writing or, extra incessantly, touch upon excerpts that they’d submitted. A bunch of her extra trenchant (and infrequently hilarious) responses are collected in Tips on how to Begin Writing (and When to Cease). I believe that is my favourite:
To the Writer of ‘The Pianist’s World’:
We advise you—for a number of months not less than—to learn solely the nice humorists. You will not be losing time: such exercise gives relaxation and recreation for a thoughts worn down by its personal lyricism. It additionally demonstrates, by the way, the folly of extreme self-importance. After this course of therapy, you will notice your poems in another way. The temper of ‘The Pianist’s World’ will strike you as contrived, and the metaphor “life licks us with a tongue of contrasts” will now not fill you with writerly delight.