Sunday, March 15, 2009

Borrowed Fire: a new feature on Swerve and Vanish

I'm starting a new regular feature on Swerve and Vanish, called Borrowed Fire, or Stealing Writing from the Gods. My first thought was to start a whole new blog devoted to this subject, and briefly did so late last night. But even later last night, I thought--am I crazy? Two blogs? So to avoid confusion and possible redundancy, Borrowed Fire will be a feature here on S and V. All posts under this rubric will have the Borrowed Fire tag and heading.

What, then, is Borrowed Fire?

Borrowed Fire is a place for aspiring writers like me to learn more about our craft. Our goal is to study the techniques of great writers in order to add fire to our own work; each of us will transform what we borrow into something that is uniquely our own. Our motto will be Do not envy--steal. Actually, it's OK to envy great writers, and, believe me, we will. But we'll also channel that envy into learning what they do and how they do it.

No god is beyond our reach. I'm going to start with Dostoevsky, and move (perhaps not in this order) to Melville, Thoreau, and other traumatizing figures from high school English. I intend to draw only from authors whose work is posted on Project Gutenberg, so that everyone who comes here can access the work immediately and for free. The other advantage of Gutenberg is that it will confine us, for the most part, to the early 20th century or before. That means we'll be looking closely at stories, novels, essays, and even poems that aren't frequently used as models in creative writing classes. But of course there's plenty in these works to learn from--and their relative distance from our time will give them a productive strangeness.

I don't intend to go page-by-page; I may do anywhere from one to twenty posts on each work. I'll be discovering some for the first time, and rereading others--even some I wrote about in my dissertation years ago, back when I called them "texts." I'm looking forward to seeing them in this different light, the light of borrowed fire.

I hope we all find this experiment helpful.

No comments: