The International Writers Magazine: Communication Skills
Eric D. Lehman
friend Ford has lived an exciting life. He can boast many of the
adventures the rest of us only dream about. After spending a year
in Nepal, he biked illegally across the tremendous Tibetan plateau.
He hitchhiked across much of the American west, living on rice and
sleeping under bridges. He tried nearly every illegal drug, just
once. He sneaked into dozens of festivals and rock concerts. He
pioneered great rock-climbing routes in Colorado and New Mexico.
On an archaeological
dig in Nicaragua, he became involved with a young native girl who tried
to convince him to smuggle artifacts to the U.S. Rebel guerillas then
shut down the dig and Ford ended up having to flee the country. And
yet, to the rest of the world, my friends varied and unique experiences
shall remain forever in darkness.
Fords trouble is an unfortunately common one throughout history.
Hundreds of Marco Polos have no doubt traveled the ancient paths and
thousands of Magellans have forged new ones. But because these experiences
were never written down, they were lost. Ford does take notes
"journaling" as he calls it but never forms these copious
notes into a cohesive or even fragmented narrative.
Of course, he does not have to write his own story. Marco Polos
prison biographer did the work for him. I would gladly transcribe Fords
tales. But the problem goes deeper. Ford cannot process his experience.
He is intelligent and curious. But he lacks the ambition, focus, or
analytical equipment to turn his action into meaning. What did he get
out of the experience in Nicaragua? "Dont get involved with
girls in foreign countries." Hardly the stuff of legend, or even
of interesting reading. Without this element, other writers can only
instill their own messages onto Fords story, something they are
better off doing with their own life-journeys.
Is this really a problem? Some would say that Ford can just wander around
having adventures and neither understand nor communicate them. Plenty
of us do. But this communication is a key to our humanity: to connect
with others, to enrich the vaults of human experience, and to expand
the limits of knowledge. As the philosopher George Santayana states
in Soliliquies in England, "Only in some word or conventional image
can the secret of one moment be flashed to another moment; and even
when there is no one able to receive the message, or able to decipher
it, at least the poet in his soliloquy has uttered his mind and raised
his monument in his own eyes; and in expressing his life, he has found
I have another friend named Ryan who certainly has not lived the life
Ford has. But he has taken elements of that normal life
and turned them into wisdom for others. He has taken assorted weight-lifting
experiences and transformed them into magazine articles, attempting
to teach. He has taken fairly standard college experiences and turned
them into kernels of truth in a semi-autobiographical screenplay. Why
bother? So that others will understand and process their own experiences
better. So that maybe one scared teenager will see his movie of geek
angst and know he is not alone. Will Ryans words change worlds?
Perhaps not, but what is important is the endeavor. Imagine what the
mad voyager Ford could do if he had the processing and communication
abilities Ryan does.
To be successful writers and human beings, we must have three elements
in place. First, we must live life fully and suck red juice from the
heart of the world. Second, we must be able to process this experience,
to truly grasp the tuitions of life. Third, we must be able to articulate
this secret significance and knowledge to others. Only then can an individual
human life connect and resonate with the rest of us.
© Prof Eric Lehman October 2004
Eric is an English professor at the University of Bridgeport
and has traveled extensively throughout the world. He has been
previously published by various web journals, such as August Cutter,
Niederngasse, Simply Haiku, and of course Hackwriters.
Eric D Lehman
Subhash began regaling Andy with plans for
the trip that he and I would take when were thirty. "Were
leaving the wives in Sydney or Melbourne and renting an old Army Jeep,
and just going, heading into the outback, Midnight Oil blasting on the
stereo, seeing Ayers Rock, the desert, maybe going all the way
to the wilds of the west coast."
Eric D Lehman in London
the Lake District
Eric D Lehman
From Broughton to Keswick
Day in Rome
Art of Active Relaxation
Prof Eric D Lehman takes a break
Eric D Lehman
Eric D Lehman
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