Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Symbolism. What do the greats have to say?

"I would never consciously place symbolism in my writing.  That would be a self-conscious exercise and self-consciousness is defeating to any creative act.  Better to let the subconscious do the work for you, and get out of the way."
-Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury's answer to the questionnaire on symbolism sent to him by a 16 year old in 1963

So this 16 year old, Bruce McAllister, back in 1963, sent out 150 mimeographed surveys to famous authors to find out what they thought about symbolism in their work.

The amazing thing is that HALF of the authors replied.

This article in The Paris Review goes into depth on many of their answers, and it's fascinating reading.

Jack Kerouac.  Norman Mailer.  Ayn Rand.  John Updike.  Isaac Asimov. 

I love Asimov's answer to did he plant symbolism in his work?

“Consciously? Heavens, no! Unconsciously? How can one avoid it?” 

Bruce grew up to become a published author himself and a professor of literature and writing. And yet, this project he did as a teenager still has such power to make us think:  How do I handle symbolism?

How do you handle symbolism in your writing? And what about in your illustrations?

Delicious food for thought!

Illustrate and Write On, 
ps- My thanks to Suzanne for the heads-up about this great article!

1 comment:

Michelle Snyder said...

Symbolism is all around us. Street signs, computer icons, ladies and men's room pictures. We cannot separate our lives from symbols. Symbolism makes any work of art richer, deeper, and more powerful. Letting the symbolism "just happen" is like writing words randomly hoping they will make a good book. But then, I am a symbologist, and therefore, biased. But really, think about it. The letters I am using to write with are symbols. Should I just allow them to flow? Use your symbols - whether written or imaged - deliberately. Know what they mean. Isn't that what it means to be literate?