Friday, December 30, 2016
The Secrets of Writing By R. T. M. Scott 1920
Secrets of Writing By R. T. M. Scott 1920
Join my Facebook Group - For a list of all of my digital books and disks click here
The secrets of the world are of two kinds; there are the hidden secrets and there are the secrets which lie open to the gaze of all. The open secrets were once the hidden secrets and in the course of time the hidden secrets will become the open ones but always will there be others hidden in the vast eternity stretching before us. An open secret is not an impossibility. Some knowledge may become so common that it is overlooked; not dwelt upon in thought. A vivid example of this is the great truth of universal brotherhood. It is upon the lips of all but it is in the minds of very few. It is a secret to the masses.
So it is with writing. There are hidden secrets which lie in the realm of the psychological and there are open secrets which any man may seize but which fall from the lips of men without the effort of thought. Of these open secrets there is one that is far greater than all the others combined. Without it success may not be attained; with it failure is impossible. It is a secret which lies at the feet of the newest writer. If he but stoops and picks it up he may scale pinnacles of success even without the aid of high education, much reading or a typewriter. He must win.
And this secret is so simple. Have something to say. Nothing else matters if that something is big enough. Describe the opposite side of the moon with a burnt match upon a dirty piece of brown wrapping paper and The Atlantic Monthly will print your manuscript no matter how poor may be your spelling and faulty your grammatical construction. If you can not get on the opposite of the moon disc get as near the edge as possible. Some day you may be able to look over. To attract an editor the writer must be attractive to the public and to be so attractive he need only have a secret. Nothing is so attractive as a secret.
The other side of the moon is a great hidden secret that may not become an open secret for many thousands of years. There are of course many lesser hidden secrets that may be exposed in print as some intellect blazes the way for them to become open secrets. The new writer—or any writer—need not, however, confine himself to the penetration of the great unknown although he should always keep it before him as a star upon which to fix his gaze. With that star upon his horizon he may toy with a thousand open secrets upon which humanity tramples daily and regarding which humanity knows no more than it does of the opposite side of the moon.
It is manifest that the open secrets of life, which people talk about but do not realize, will not compel publication in The Atlantic Monthly if they are written with a burnt match upon dirty wrapping paper and with poor spelling and faulty construction. They are on this side of the moon and they need aids to assist them into print. The aids of education, of reading and of a typewriter are sometimes sufficient to accomplish the result. More often they are not sufficient but there is a secret—-a partly hidden secret-—of writing which will assist these aids to win the victory. Even without much education and without much book reading and with only a pen and ink this partly hidden secret may so vitalize a manuscript that the editor will be forced to place it before his public.
Some people talk aloud to themselves and are made fun of by other people who may chance to hear them. Whether or not it is funny the people who laugh at the phenomenon do not stop to consider the reason for it. Few people talk words themselves; most people think words. When a man talks to himself he is intensifying his thought for his own benefit. It is often done by the weak minded who have difficulty in thinking at all but it is also done by the great poet. Here lies the partly hidden secret of writing. It need not be necessary to talk aloud but it is necessary to think into words the thoughts that are to appear on paper and it is of great value to think these thoughts into words in a natural and not an unnatural manner.
By our feelings we are caused to think and it is unnatural to think against our feelings. Such thoughts are not genuine; they do not ring true when placed on paper. It is impossible to laugh genuinely at the funeral of a dear one, and the consideration of a mathematical problem at a minstrel show will not be rewarded with the best results. Neither can the best results be obtained in writing nor genuine feelings portrayed unless the thought be worked into vivid mental words under the stress of harmonious emotion. Let the writer feel the sadness or gladness, the beauty or horror of what he is going to write and let him listen for the mental words. They will come and sometimes with such distinctness that they will sound outside himself. A sad mood will bring sad words and phrases while the feeling of beauty will convey rainbow pigments to paint his theme. Leonardo da Vinci used this secret in his painting. It is partly hidden. No man can show another. He who would learn it all must teach himself.
Visit my Amazon Author page here