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Oh, the Things You Can Learn From Creative Writing – Part III

Podcast Link: Click here.

Podcast Transcript: Hi, genuine writers! This is Innovative Editing’s Jeannette DiLouie welcoming you to episode #25 of The Genuine Writer Podcast. We keep things short, sweet and to the point here so that you can learn what you need to learn and get back to writing already.

Today’s episode – which continues the conversation we began three weeks ago about some of the things you can learn from creative writing – is sponsored once again by the newly published Proving America, a novel about what it was like to be an American soldier during the disastrous War of 1812. Join untried, untested and unsure officer Ashley Slasen on the battlefield as he sees what the British are really made of – and whether he has what it takes to take them on… both when the guns are blazing and when they’ve stilled.

I’ll make sure to include a link for Proving America in the description section so you can get a copy today.

In last week’s episode, we actually brought up Proving America and the series it concludes as proof of just some of the awesome things you can learn from creative writing. Specifically, we discussed how writing a book in every single genre out there can lead to some serious learning about the subject matter in question.

Throughout my 12 published novels across four genres, I’ve learned so many historical, scientific, philosophical, mythological, geographic, legislative and vocational details about everything from how the “Star-Spangled Banner” came about, to why constructions workers in highway construction zones never seem to actually be doing anything, to actual – i.e., not Hollywood – facts about guns, to the crazy categories that Congress will fit its insanely over-managing pieces of legislation into. It’s amazing! Creative writing is really a great way to learn about any subject under the sun – if you’re willing to do it right. And by doing it right, I mean taking the time to research what you’re creative writing about.

But, again, that’s all from last week’s episode. This week, we’re talking about what all that research leads to: how to love learning. Because, along with the ability to discover how many amazing things God’s creation offers us, creative writing can help us actually want to discover that amazingness: to put that ability into action. To better ourselves by increasing our knowledge base and discovering what is right, what is wrong, and what is interpretable.

There’s a valuable amount of positive pride that comes from finding those facts and figures out for yourself… and then, let’s say, by pointing out when Hollywood gets it wrong.

And, shockingly enough, Hollywood gets it wrong. A lot.

For example, there’s a movie called The Patriot that was made years and years ago. 2000, I believe. So, practically a lifetime ago. Actually, I suppose it truly was a lifetime ago for some of you people listening to this. Which is a little terrifying. Plus, it makes me feel really old if I think about it for too long. Hence the reason why we’re just going to keep moving on to talk about The Patriot

The Patriot is all about the Revolutionary War. And since I’m obsessed with the Revolutionary War, that meant I automatically had to watch it. When I did, I liked it enough to buy it up as quickly as I could. To my young and idealistic self, it was a shining example of how amazing America was and how horrible the British were back then. Which is in part true. As I stated in last week’s podcast, the British really did commit some absolute atrocities against the Americans during the Revolutionary War. We’re talking about stuff that is flat-out banned by the Geneva Conventions, such as rape, butchering pregnant women, killing soldiers after they surrendered, keeping prisoners in concentration-camp-like conditions, etc., etc. The Americans were hardly always perfect either, but the size and scale of what they did against the British and those among them who sided with the British just did not compare.

However, the atrocities they’re portrayed as committing in the Mel Gibson film? Those most definitely put the fiction in “historical fiction.” And then some. I learned all of that years later thanks to my research for Designing America – the sequel to Proving America – which just so happens to prominently feature the real-life villain that the Mel Gibson film involved. I watched the movie again more recently, after researching, writing, editing and publishing Designing America, and found myself picking out historical inaccuracies every 10 minutes – at least.

For instance, the real-life villain, Banastre Tarleton – whose name I might be completely mispronouncing since creative writing doesn’t teach anyone how to properly pronounce anything, especially in this ridiculous hodgepodge language we call English – never locked ordinary American citizens inside of a church and set it on fire. That was completely and totally made up. So too was him going to a makeshift American hospital and ordering the systematic slaughter of all the wounded soldiers there.

The actual Banastre Tarleton was one of the most complex individuals I have ever researched. He was undoubtedly young, bold, brash and arrogant, as evidenced by report after report after report by both the British and American sides. Yet every other detail about him, whether positive or negative, British or American, comes with at least one if not many refutations. Writing about him was therefore quite the fascinating and fun challenge – unlike writing about the main villain in Proving America, who was, I swear, one of the most obnoxious individuals on the planet.

Almost unbelievably so.

Moving on from all of that though, history is hardly the only thing that Hollywood gets wrong. There’s also plenty of present-day truths it runs roughshod on, presenting us with a picture we accept hook, line, and sinker… until our own honest writing and honest researching helps us to sift through what’s accurate and what’s made-up.

Now, I want to go back for a minute to what I said about there being an amount of personal pride in finding these truths out. I’m very well aware of how unchecked egos can lead to major downfalls. I just read a news story about a major Wall Street legend who’s since been arrested and charged with untoward behavior – and I mean very untoward behavior – with underage girls. Why did he do such disgusting things if he is, in fact, guilty of them? Well, other than being a seriously twisted individual who made a whole lot of other bad choices in life to get him to that point, I would guess there was a good bit of pride involved: pride that his prestige and wealth and influence would keep him from ever being caught. Getting puffed up on the knowledge we gather or even the wisdom we gain from it is never a healthy state of being to foster.

However, we each have personal gifts we’ve been given that we’re supposed to enjoy for all they’re worth. Our minds were made for a reason: to be used to build and create and grow and advance and secure, protect and guard and nurture. And there is a positive kind of pride to be taken out of using our minds for those reasons, just as long as we always acknowledge that we’re not the end-all-be-alls out there – something we’ll discuss in further detail in next week’s episode.

Until then, thanks as always for tuning into The Genuine Writer Podcast. It’s lovely to have you here, and I’ll catch you writers on the 15th. Until then, very happy writing!

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