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October 2011

Mindful Slogging

October 22, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (0)

David Young
The American portrait painter Chuck Close famously, and accurately, pronounced: ‘Inspiration is for amateurs’. What does this mean, exactly?

It means that a serious practitioner of any creative art– be it painting, writing, dance or chain saw sculpture – must be prepared to sail the dark ocean alone, most days without any flashes of inspiration to light the way. Most of the time there will be nothing to guide or empower your journey except your dogged determination to keep at it, no matter what. It’s an acquired taste, this mindful slogging into the unknown which is at the core of all artistic practice. Recognizing and honouring the ancient lineage of your determination can be a source of considerable joy and energy.

The determination to shape something useful and beautiful from the products of the mind is as old as the first campfire where skilled hands fashioned Mastodon ivory into an amulet designed to keep the sun in the sky. “I am making something larger than myself. It is ancient work.” Carry this simple thought in your pocket like a pebble from the river and you will have all the inspiration you need to keep the dragons of anxiety and doubt at bay. Every day try to make something beautiful and useful. A single sentence will do. The determination to create something against all odds is in and of itself a form of inspiration.

You don’t need to know where you’re going to keep going. Tame the dragons with your determination. Inspire yourself with your own hard work in the face of doubt and difficulty. When inspiration finally does arrive, unannounced and unbidden, you will be prepared (thanks to your mindful slogging) to receive the flash of deep insight with a  strong, clear mind and put it to good use.

David Young

Voice & Influences

October 15, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (1)

David Young
In our public panel the other evening the subject of ‘writerly influences’ came up and I’d like to reiterate my remarks at that gathering. These observations particularly apply to those in the early stages of their writing career.

The only real way to educate yourself as a writer, to find your voice, is to read widely across many disciplines.  Of course, you must read ‘the classics’ but it’s also vitally important to follow your nose into the dusty, far flung corners of literature and human thought.  You don’t need to know what you’re looking for. It will find you. When you stumble on a particular work, an author’s voice, that speaks directly to you with real power and changes the way you think and feel about the world it’s your job to fully explore all the books by the writer in question, including biographical and autobiographical texts. 

The object of the exercise is to drain the cup of that voice that spoke to you and thereby be influenced so deeply that the writer’s voice turns into a kind of haunting echo in your own work.  Some writers resist this suggestion, afraid of becoming mere mynah birds who replicate the pace, style and observational eye of another. I would urge you to put those thoughts aside when you are engaged in the crucial, self-directed educational project of ‘finding your own voice’.  If you don’t allow the influences to temporarily take you over you won’t absorb them and learn the lessons that will inform your own voice going forward and make you a better writer.

All art forms are based on this progression, this ancestor worship. No great master  -- be she a painter, a novelist, or a symphonic composer -- would ever dare to say that their brilliant work sprung unbidden from a vacuum.  Artists who make beautiful and useful things stand on the shoulders of those who came before them.  It’s the natural order of things. So, seek out your influences!  Fall in love with the voices of other writers!  Mimic their style and cadence until they drive you nuts… and then let them fall away.  Their genius will rub off and you will grow a size as a writer. 

David Young

Writer-in-Residence: Finding an Audience for Your Work

October 8, 2011 | Dawn | Comments (0)

DavidYoung David’s two-month residency continues Tuesday, October 11 with the second of three outstanding public programs. We hope to see you there!

Finding an Audience for Your Work
Tue Oct 11, 2011  -  7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Toronto Reference Library Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium

David Young offers real world strategies for getting books published, plays produced and screenplays made into movies. There is no magic wand. It is all about becoming an active member of a community.


Patrick Crean, Publisher and Editor, Thomas Allen & Son
Andrea Romaldi, Literary Manager, Tarragon Theatre


    Tarragon Theatre

Thomas Allen Publishers David Young is an award winning Toronto-based writer and educator. He is the author of seven plays, two novels and a long list of film, radio and television credits. David’s plays have been produced at The Stratford Festival, Tarragon Theatre, The National Arts Centre, Neptune Theatre, have toured across Canada and been staged internationally.



Playwright David Young will be blogging in this space from October - November, 2011 as Toronto Reference Library's Playwright-in-Residence.