Saturday, 13 February 2010

Saturday's Writng Quotation Examination

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.  ~Samuel Johnson

 Saturdays are slow days in the blogging community. Perhaps it stems from the fact that most writers (myself excluded) have lives away from their computers. So, I've decided to save my writing posts for mid-week and make Saturdays a writing quote study.

How it works: I take a random writing quote and examine its meaning and search for wisdom within.

This is my first quote. Samuel Johnson lived in the 1700s and was best known for his essays, poetry and sermons. Johnson even influenced Jane Austen's writing style and philosophy.

What he says here rings true for me... writers whether they wrote long ago or today have a great deal of power. Their words shape the thinking and view points of the readers.


For example, let's say we were against the slave trade a few hundred years back. We could write a book from the point of a slave or a slave owner and make the characters ones we relate to or feel sorry for. If we write enough books with subtle situations describing the follies of a certain course, we can shape the society that reads our work. Many, including Samuel Johnson, did such with their writings.

Many topics off-limit and banned to readers years ago have become a norm because literature has made it acceptable. Example, Harry Potter.

Now, how does a writer make familiar things new?

Through the creativity of the writer, we can make a walk through a park full of love, laughter, murder, mystery, suspense, or even a thought-provoking take on life.

We can take a simple balloon ride and change the lives of many...(Black Dogs by McEwan)

What is your take on this quotation?


Jemi Fraser said...

I like this quote too. There are always new ways to look at things, we just have to let our creativity flow :)

Harvee said...

There are so many valid points of view on any given subject or topic. I like to read new perspectives on topics.

Mason Canyon said...

I like your Saturday quotes. Writers do have a lot of power in the way and what they write. Very interesting and informative post.

Joanne said...

I often hear that putting a new fresh spin on an old idea is so necessary in writing. I guess that applied in Johnson's time, too!

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

Ann Elle Altman said...

Jemi, I've not heard the quote before today but glad I considered it.

Harvee, Yeah, it's a new perspective even for me.

Mason, thank you, glad you liked it.

Joanne, I think back then, with so many changes in the industrial revolution, and such, many thing needs to be changed.


Jim Murdoch said...

There is nothing that hasn’t been written about. Accepting that is an important first step as a writer admitting that you have nothing new to say. But someone will read what you have to say first before any of these others. It’s them you write for. You want your particular presentation of the truth to be memorable and to stick. Imagine if ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ was the first poem you read about war. Try following that. But if Owen had not written that, ask yourself: What would I have to say on the subject? That’s how I keep going.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Jim, you make wonderful points. We don't know what the first book children will read and hold on to as fact when they grow up. How important it is for writers to remember that.


J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Ann,
I tried posting a comment at home, but the word verification wouldn't work.

The quote is oh, so true. Writers strive to make the same old, same old fresh and different. And yes, it is a struggle sometimes getting across something new to the reader in such a way that it won't seem weird and way out there.

Amazing what we do with words.

Anonymous said...

Oh, love this idea for Saturdays!

I think the quote (and your critique) shows how we can highlight through story what some writers attempt to 'tell' through character preaching. We can 'show' the things upon which we'd like to to shine a light by allowing it to play out for the reader in real-time.

I think that's what the author is saying, in part.



from the desk of a writer

Ann Elle Altman said...

Joy, yes, writers have lots of power and need to handle words carefully.

Corra, I think you're right, show the outcome of an action or viewpoint rather than tell.