Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Divine Comedy of Writing

Does writing bring out the best, or the worst in us?
I would argue (if you want a fight about it) that we need both in order to write, but the mortal sins are what give us an edge.

I have long been fascinated with Dante Alighieri's poem of his journey through the rings of Hell. In the epic 'Divine Comedy' the poet encounters, studies and reports on the human condition in Purgatory. Surely it is human nature to have a fair sprinkling of all seven of the deadly sins, especially if you are writing about it?

Invidia (envy) gets us going. If that twat who is currently at the top of the bestsellers list can do it, then so can I.

Superbia (pride) - Look at my bright shiny, sparkly words. Don't you want to buy them?

Ira (wrath) - anger at self (and the twat) sharpens the pen and improves style and technique.

Avaritia (greed) - no point in writing unless you are hungry for words, for completion, for success of the piece you are working on.

Gula (gluttony) - no chapter, no chocolate - therefore writing quicker = more choc. Yum! (err, maybe this is one of my rules)

Acedia (sloth) - all writers are experts at displacement activity. We would far rather lie on the sofa with a pound of grapes watching daytime TV than pound out the next paragraph.

Luxuria (lust) - the old meaning is 'extravagance', something that I often feel that my writing is. The rest of my life put on hold while I attend to my habit. And of course, where would any novel be without an intimate knowledge of a good juicy bit of lust!

I would add my list of contrary virtues but they don't slip off my fingers as easily as the sins. Funny that.


.

14 comments:

John said...

The seven virutes don't slip off your fingers as easily as the seven sins roll off your tongue? Oh, dear.

Minx said...

Did I mention tongue?

John said...

Didn't need to.

Roberta said...

Oh, this is good. TOmorrow, when I can think straight, I'll respond properly.

Minx said...

It is tomorrow, Roberta. Oh you Merkans, so behind the times!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

I don't want to lie on the sofa with a pound of grapes. I'd rather lie on the sofa with a pound of choccie raisins - if fruit must be involved!

Taffiny said...

I would tell you that there is something faulty in your thinking here, but it all feels spot on to me.

And it was so good of you to remind me, that I had fully intended to bribe myself into finishing the rough draft, holding out some sort of clothing purchase, as the carrot to get this mule to pull the cart.

I can not believe it took me several tries to read twat. I initially thought it some typo for the word what, but then that didn't work in the sentence, whereas twat worked wonderfully well.

Minx said...

See, Vanil, told you we wuz experts!

Taffiny, I can read and write 'twat' quite well and I use it a lot - very expressive. There goes another sin....

Roberta said...

~~Does writing bring out the best, or the worst in us?~~~

I would love to think that it brings out the best in us. Edges yes, we always need that to keep the reader interested...but inspirational writing can also do that.

~~Surely it is human nature to have a fair sprinkling of all seven of the deadly sins, especially if you are writing about it?~~

That WOULD keep it interesting. Deadly sins are ideal when one wants to perk up the ears of the reader. However, and this is a quiet "however", when one wants to reach the soul and speak to it, one doesn't need to sin at all.

~~Invidia (envy) gets us going. If that twat who is currently at the top of the bestsellers list can do it, then so can I.~~

I'm not competitive by nature. I write what I feel and what I want to put down in words. I will never again be published. But I will always be a twat. ;)

~~Superbia (pride) - Look at my bright shiny, sparkly words. Don't you want to buy them?~~

Hell. I give 'em away.

~~Ira (wrath) - anger at self (and the twat) sharpens the pen and improves style and technique.~~

For me, usually leads to misspelled words and angst. Don't have any use for either.

I'm running out of space. I understand Avaritia, Gula and Acedia...They are Luxuria. But I am a simple writer, still working on my "voice".

Now. If my damnable archivist could find my best piece he has on his computer and would send to me, I would be a freakin' happy camper!!!!!!!!! (early years, I never backed up anything. He did it all.)

mutleythedog said...

Are there so few deadly sins - blimey ! Whats the difference between greed and gluttony?, only I would rather be a glutton than greedy, on the off chance that some people won't be entirely sure that a glutton is a bad thing...

I think Roberta is too good to be true... I am all your sins and more - how about spiteful critic... I am good at that? That may come under the jealousy bit...

Cailleach said...

Deadly buzz, man as they say in Dublin ;)

Jon M said...

Wouldn't fight you over that! I think I've got most of them covered and they aren't necessarily bad things really. What would life (or stories) be like without them?

Minx said...

Oh I agree, Roberta. I am a much better writer with all the sinning and a much nicer person on the blog than I am in real life - heh!

Muts, both are sins of excess (yes, we like them ones) but the old meanings make the difference clearer. Guttony refers to overindulgence and Greed to covetousness.
Spiteful critics are just plain nasty - have you met one? Hee, hee.

Again, agree Jon. I think you have to work with all sins and virtues for writing as you do in err, real life. I myself lean towards the virtues, as you know!

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Your virtues are good ones, they are many, and they are harder to admit than the sins.


Good list. I wallow in several of those regularly.


Scarlett & V.