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Gwen Tuinman

Novelist

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writing life

On Writing a Picture of the Whole World

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “I am trying to make, before I get through, a picture of the whole world—or as much of it as I have seen. Boiling it down always, rather than spreading it thin.”  As a writer, his sentiment about rich story content is at the forefront of my mind. I strive to bring something of value to the page hoping to engage readers, if only to evoke their own introspection on the heels of my own.

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Truth in Life Versus Truth in Art and Writing

In Aspects of the Novel, developed from a series of his 1927 Trinity College lectures, E.M. Forster shared an excerpt of work by author André Gide. The passage examines “the old thesis of truth in life versus truth in art.” Upon first reading this phrase, I thought brilliant idea—then doubled back for another pass and sunk into it like a warm bath. Truth in life versus truth in art.

The title of this piece you’re reading could easily be renamed Plato Versus Aristotle. The former believed artists create a mere imitation of life that distracts from truth. Aristotle took a view friendlier to creatives. “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearances of things, but their inward significance.” The manner in which artists depict an object, projects their “inward” experience of the world—#speakyourtruth.

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Getting Things Done

As a creative person, I’ve historically found administrative to-do lists terrifying. I’d start off gung-ho, then turn into a morose Hamlet-type. “To get it done, or not to get it done. That is the question.” All those unticked boxes came to symbolize shame and guilt. They mounded up so heavily I couldn’t lift them. Why try?

In retrospect, each administrative task I listed was made of a subset of smaller tasks that could have comfortably been completed had I tackled them over a realistic timeline. But that would have been too kind.

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