Searchlights & Signal Flares


Tiny Lights' On-line Writer's Exchange

Is it better for a writer to be irreproachable or irrepressible? (07/15/07)



Featured writer: Betty Winslow



Contributors this month:
Betty Winslow
Christine Falcone
Don Edgers
Jordan E. Rosenfeld


Betty Winslow



Writers who are irrepressible cannot be silenced. Writers who are irreproachable can be trusted to write the truth as they know it, without slant, twist, or addition; to treat fellow humans in the same way they would like to be treated; and to do nothing that besmirches their own reputation or that of the companies they write for. I have the reputation of being one of the former. I'd rather be known as one of the latter.



Betty Winslow, Bowling Green, Ohio, trusting God to help her be irreproachable.


Betty Winslow



Writers who are irrepressible cannot be silenced. Writers who are irreproachable can be trusted to write the truth as they know it, without slant, twist, or addition; to treat fellow humans in the same way they would like to be treated; and to do nothing that besmirches their own reputation or that of the companies they write for. I have the reputation of being one of the former. I'd rather be known as one of the latter.



Betty Winslow, Bowling Green, Ohio, trusting God to help her be irreproachable.


Is it better for a writer to be irreproachable or irrepressible?

  by Christine Falcone

I don't believe anyone should be beyond reproach. Even writers. So I'd have to say that it's far better for a writer to be irrepressible, like a wind you can't hold back. I'd like to wake up every day, sit down at my computer, throw open the windows to my writer's mind and let the wind whip my hair back from my face, lifting strands into the air like a head of live snakes. I'd like to sit, Medusa-like, and let the words pour out of me, filling the page, the computer screen, the blank canvas of my life. I'd like to be like a dam bursting, like a laugh you can't keep in. I'd like the sentences to explode from the deep space of my mind like those snakes- in-a-can Uncle Joe was always trying to trick us into believing were
jellybeans. I'd like the need to write to push in on me from all sides, making me push back.

Writing is like exercise; if I don't work out, I get all bottled up. I act out. I say things I shouldn't. I have much less patience, and have been known to drive way too fast. So when I start reprimanding waiters in restaurants and cursing at my fellow drivers, I know it's time to plant my butt in the chair, pick up my pen and paper and face the blank page before me. Then it's just a matter of taking off the top of the "jelly bean can" and standing back to see what comes out.

Christine Falcone is letting her snakes out in Novato, CA.

Irreproachable or Irrepressible?

  by Don Edgers

Type-A, concrete-sequential, conscientious, sensitive, intellectually-oriented individuals seem (to me) to steer toward the ‘irreproachable' writing cognomen. I don't say this with disdain; au contraire, I have the highest respect for and envy many writers of this ilk - poets, in particular.

As a college student I aspired to be counted among this lot; alas, my heart just wasn't into it. As my fingernails shortened, my tobacco intake increased, and antacid consumption approached unsustainable legal quantities - I realized I would have to be heavily medicated to continue in Camp Irreproachable. I came to the comforting rationalization that I must be lacking the irreproachable-gene, and my irrepressible writing-style acted as a safety valve, which no doubt kept my brain from exploding. That, and many of my neighbors feel I am occupied and off the street.

Don, a retired teacher, lives across Puget Sound from Seattle, in Port Orchard where he is writing his third nonfiction book. Check out his other books at www.anislandintime.com, www.iuniverse.com, www.authorhouse.com.

irreproachable or irrepressible?

  by Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Without intending to sound like a total jerk, I have to say, why must we always choose between two imperfect poles? You want a writer who's irreproachable? I'll show you a tomb full of dead people. None of us are without flaw, blameless, impeccable. We're all human-style messy in one way or another (even if we can't admit it). And irrepressible, well, that just conjures up one of those loudmouths at a party who don't know when to stop holding you hostage with their scintillating tale of personal greatness—the stock tip that netted him millions; the chiseled biceps of the perfect lover she met in her plastic surgeon's office (situations to which you will never aspire).

So what lies between those two extremes? I wouldn't mind being irresistible. I am most definitely, at times, irrational. I know that I clamor for attention and seek to feed my ego with validation, but I don't want to be known as "that writer, you know the one who always goes on and on about what she's working on now." I want the stories I write to entertain. A few tears shed is nice. A couple of laughs, and a desire to read the next thing—those are good enough for me.

Jordan E. Rosenfeld's writing is irreducibly irreformable. visit www.jordanrosenfeld.net .



Searchlights Editor:

Susan Bono

Columnists:

Christine Falcone, David Samuel Johnson, Betty Rodgers

Susan Bono is a writing coach, editor and freelance writer whose work appears in newspapers, anthologies and the Internet. She has published Tiny Lights, a journal of personal essay, since 1995, along with its online counterpart here at tiny-lights.com. From 2000—2005 she helped coordinate the Writer's Sampler series for the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Her short essays and columns have appeared in various anthologies, magazines, newspapers and on the radio. Her most recent credits include Passager Magazine, Red Hills Review, the St. Petersburg Times, the Petaluma Argus Courier, the Anderson Valley Advertiser and KRCB radio's Word by Word.

Christine Falcone has been writing most of her life. Her work has appeared in print and online, and it has aired on public television and public radio. One of her writing goals for 2008 is to find an agent for her recently completed first novel, "This Is What I Know," which was named as a finalist in the William Faulkner Wisdom Creative Writing Competition out of New Orleans. She is currently in a new writing space, painted purple for inspiration, busily at work on another novel -- this one having to do with the nature of violence.

David Samuel Johnson was reared on a mountain in Arkansas. He lived the bohemian lifestyle in the Ozarks as a hillbilly vagabond, traversing the mountainside shirtless and most of the time shoeless, exploring the sensuality of the aromatic, organic-rich soil of the forest floor or the harsh poetry of greenbriers twined around a devil’s-walking-stick. As a kid he wanted to be a writer and own a snake farm when he grew up. His Mama knew she couldn't dissuade him from either goal. When he brought a poisonous copperhead snake home in his pocket, she bought him a book about snakes so he’d know which ones he could bring home and which ones to leave behind. When he wrote his first poem to a girl in kindergarten, she showed him how to use a dictionary so he could spell the word "beautiful." David's goal of a snake farm and the love of his mountain have manifested into a PhD in ecology. David’s dream of writing has evolved from his first poem in kindergarten to essays in newspapers to interview articles in magazines and columns in this journal. He is living a beautiful dream, some of which you can glimpse below.

David the Writer

David the Scientist

Betty Rodgers and her husband, Ken, live and watch birds in Boise, Idaho. A transplant among transplants, she has chosen to learn the local landscape through the lens of her Pentax K10D. Her writing career began at an early age when she wrote plays and coerced her boy cousins to perform them. She has enjoyed a life-long affair with journalism, writing for the Sacramento Bee, the Cloudcroft Mountain Monthly, the Sebastopol Times and News, and the Boise Weekly. Born in Steinbeck Country, she has also lived in Maine and New Mexico. Betty publishes a bi-monthly online newsletter for Idaho writers, a labor of love inspired by Terry Ehret. In 2006, she published A Mano, a book of poetry by the late Vince Pedroia.

Thanks to all who participated this month. It's good to know you're out there! We're looking forward to hearing from you and those you inspired sometime soon! Check this column each month to see what's new. Return to Searchlights & Signal Flares menu for future topics and guidelines.

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