Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Photojournalism (11): Creative writing through seeing

Martha Foley’s short story “One With Shakespeare” chronicles a young girl’s exquisite discovery of her talent for writing. Through the encouragement of her high school teacher, the girl realizes that just like Shakespeare, she also had that creative potential, that “spark of the divine fire.” She begins to savor the emotions, the expressions, the ideas her words could bring forth. She begins to learn how to create memorable images in the mind’s eye through words. Looking out the windows of the library, she sees the flower filled trellis and her mind is filled with images of “black sentinels against the sky.”

Perhaps your talent isn’t in photography but in creative writing or journalism. But this series on photojournalism can still help you through an activity known as “writing through seeing.” Sometimes, you run out of ideas or topics to write about. What you can do is to look at the pictures in this series, and use them as your inspiration, as starting points for writing descriptions, narration, expositions, dialogues, short stories, etc.

Silhouette;creative writing through seeing; 1990 Rizal High School, corner of Amang Hall; photo by Atty. Galacio For example, you can write a description of your feelings as you look at the solitary branch against the sunset above. Write about the glorious sunsets in Boracay when you went there last summer. Write about how you felt, what you thought about as you and your family spent time together along Baywalk. Write about how you felt getting turned down for the tenth time by the same girl (ouch!)

Creative writing through seeing; vertical format; photo by Atty. Galacio You can use the picture above of the guy up on a tree to learn how to write dialogue; notice that the girl with a white T-shirt is looking up at the guy, and there’s a heart-shaped piece of paper with the words “Happy Valentine” on the tree.

Nurture the “spark of divine fire” within you

In my 12 years of teaching, two of the best student writers I ever had the pleasure of teaching were Mylah Reyes-Roque (from Rizal High School in Pasig, Class ’87; she recently won a UNICEF award for her Newsbreak magazine article on child prisoners), and Cyrille Cucio from Quezon City Science High School Class ‘84.

But Cyrille went into medicine, rather than journalism or creative writing. When we met several years after high school, I told Cyrille that I was disappointed with her because she wasted her talent for writing. Well, writing’s loss is medicine’s gain, I suppose... or she could be the next Arturo B. Rotor of Philippine literature! In case you’ve forgotten, Rotor, a medical doctor, wrote the classic short story “Zita.”

Whatever your talent may be, nurture it, share it. That talent, that "spark of the divine fire" is a gift from God.

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