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Context for Writing

Writing does not occur in a vacuum. Writing is done within the context of world, national, state, and local issues. It is most profoundly influenced and actually driven by the circumstances of our personal lives, of our own individual realities, personalities, families, friends, experiences, etc.

Of course that context is much different for each of us. My comments below are from the perspective of a 70-year old, and offer the probably unwelcome and fatalistic wisdom that comes with age. The context of younger writers hopefully offers a less cynical view, appropriate for their individual stages of life and range of experiences.

Life happens, in stages and chapters. We cycle through the helplessness of infancy, the innocence and sheer joy of childhood, the discovery and definition of school years. We evolve from the initial focus on self during our early years to the more selfless responsibilities of adulthood including jobs, marriage, and parenting, which totally dominant and preoccupy our lives for many years. We survive the empty nest syndrome as our children mature and depart, a growing sense of uselessness during retirement, then the inevitable decline of senior years. And that is the ideal, those less fortunate are denied even those opportunities.

We plan our lives and strive to proactively execute our plans, to impose some level of control over our own lives. But we are constantly forced to react, adjust, and adapt to unexpected changes, unforeseen circumstances, and unplanned events. Life is all about tradeoffs and balance, between good and bad, happy and sad, up and down, right and wrong, strong and weak, certainty and doubt, love and hate, too much versus too little sex. We bounce between optimism and pessimism, with a dose of realism mixed in if we can even recognize it.

Life is defined by who we are and what we do, by people and relationships, by places, travels and adventures, by goals and achievements, disappointments and tragedies. We inevitably come to realize that we are not at all in control. We are forever forced to cope, to reconcile, to accept unwanted and unwelcome realities. Life is humbling, and leads inexorably to death. Not succumbing to, and indeed living happily despite those dark and poignant truths, is the key to a good and productive life. We become naturally more self-effacing, even self-deprecating. We must learn to laugh at and with both life and death.

It is human nature that each of us must learn these realities independently. We simply cannot rationally observe or read about such matters and adopt as life lessons. We must live and experience them the hard way, personally and on our own.

It is across this wide range of perspectives and emotions that I build my poems. It is within their own personal context that other writers, poets and non-poets alike, write their poems and novels and stories. Personal context is the very foundation for the diversity of creative writing output.

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