Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ars Scribendi or The Art of Writing

Frederick the Literate by Charles Wysocki

Ars Scribendi.  Perhaps only a Latinist or classics major would recognize and appreciate these words as 'The Art of Writing,' but, id est (it is) a writer's art.  Most writers pen their 'Pulitzer' works in vivid color at odd hours sacred to their work, while the rest of the world dreams away, unconsciously, in black and white. The linguist's lair is a treasure trove full of well-worn words that sparkle and shine when polished;  once again ready and waiting to be written into a new genre.  Whether the work is an epic, short story, poetry or prose, the power of the pen is what a great writer knows.

A true, linguistically-gifted, artist can captivate the most discriminating audiences and catapult a literary work to a level of masterpiece with a keystroke.  The creative and captivating writer knows jocular and poignant words that both enthrall and elate the reader.  The reader loans this book to a friend, promising, 'You won't be able to put this one down.' The pertinent words alone are minimal but with vibrant adjectives, dancing verbs, a little alliteration and some assonance, the story leaps to life.  The adept writer hooks his readers with a word or ploy and draws them into a storyline that carries them to the peak, known as climax.  The fallout or anti-climatic term is resolution; the French call this, 'denouement', and literally means, 'the unraveling of the plot;' end of story. 
'In medias res' means 'starting in the middle of something.'  We would see this writing most often in a murder plot where the reader starts in the middle and works his way back to the 'Who did it?' phase.  The storyline leads the reader methodically and meticulously through a web of speculation and suspense, weaving and discerning who the culprit could be and where the guilt truly lies.

What makes a 'magnus opus' or 'great work?"  Most great works are created by artist who have mastered a genre of writing:  poetry, short story, novel, prose, etc., and they become renowned for that style of writing.  These works are written by artists who have a strong command of language coupled with linguistic skills and a creative flair for the unexpected.  Poe's gothic style fueled from opiates and a broken heart kindles a passion from lost loves and missed opportunities in evenings of solitude.  His deranged imagination sweep in and out on the wings of a dark raven and is carried to the sepulcher by the sea for the love of his life, Annabel Lee.

Talented writer can transport even the weariest travelers onto a road that promises to be the one that will make all the difference.  Looking through the eyes of Robert Frost, we too can follow the two paths in wonderment as they wind and diappear into the woods.  At the end of our journey, we reflect on the path we chose as we walk down memory lane.

My heart belongs to Thoreau and to his quintessential and proverbial, "Walden."  Thoreau was a transcendentalist, a dreamer, who lived his life as he decided, not ascribed by mores and traditions but by solitary contentment.  His cabin in the woods adjacent to Ralph Waldo Emerson's land was a monument to the serenity he subscribed to and perhaps a life he came to know as 'Walden.'  I too, would like to live at Walden's Pond and consider, "Where I lived and what (and Who-if I may add), I lived for," writing what comes to mind from the sounds of the day, the colors in the rainbow, and the smell of the air.  When I am so inundated with the rigors of every day routine, I embrace the thought of a cabin in the wood by these magical waters.

Thus, the written word is all we have left when our voices fall silent.  If you have ever laughed until you sides hurs, cried out loud, or traveled through time while reading a book, you have read true art.  Writing is an art form and you, the connoisseurs, of the written word.
Ars scribendi!

*Lauri Simpson Turman is a contributing writer for "In" Mgazine"
Publication date of this article was in the January/February 2011 issue.

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