Sunday 29 April 2012

Life as a Literary Device: A Writer's Manual of Survival

Recently, I read a wonderful book by Ukranian-born cultural commentator and journalist Vitali Vitaliev, memorably titled, Life as a Literary Device: A Writer's Manual of Survival.  Amazon describe it as “an analysis of how literature has bound his life and an exploration of how to survive in the modern world.”

Reading it was a wonderful springboard for me.  His comment, “I dread unlimited choices, which to me can be almost as baffling as no choice at all,” really resonated as making choices is at the heart of the craft and philosophy of creative writing. 

I also loved the survival tips, which were interesting and thought-provoking.  One of these suggests re-reading familiar books from childhood, which can be calming and reassuring at low points. How true.  This form of bibliotherapy rekindles happy memories and nostalgic thoughts, as we also associate the actual text we are re-reading with the circumstances in which it was read.  I count myself lucky that my dearly loved, and sadly recently late, mother used to read to my brother and I when we were very young, while we were snuggled up in bed, and this helped to nurture my love of books, leading to many hours spent reading under the covers by torchlight when the rest of the house was asleep.

I liked the advice “Relax about tomorrow and just see it as gathering information for your survivor’s guide.”   Yes, life is a survivor’s guide, a giant research project, as we accrue the knowledge and experience that will guide us on the journey.  

Life as a Literary Device

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