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Gwen Tuinman

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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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I Knew I Was a Writer When …

About fifteen years ago in my pre-author life, I attended a creative writing workshop held at Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario. At the time, I was an educator who’d never put stories to paper. Even so, I recall my enthusiasm for the chance to learn how artwork could launch students’ writing ideas.

The instructor led myself and the other teachers through collaborative writing exercises for which a series of grand oil paintings served as inspiration. To close out the day, we watched a short film produced by our instructor as an introduction to a live theatre piece. We were to watch and then write whatever came to mind.

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Writing Through Insomnia

Insomnia is the canary in my mineshaft.  Just when I think I know what I’m doing in a novel, it swoops in to chirp that I don’t know what I’m doing at all. After staring at the darkened ceiling for hours, I realize there’s flawed logic to be resolved. Too clever for my own good, I’ve painted my protagonist into a corner, corralled him or her into thinking or doing something contradictory to their true self. I dislike an unsolved riddle. A loose end is torture. Until I’ve figured out how to step out of that corner and continue onward, there’ll be no sleep.

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