The Magic of Writing

I was sitting in my scriptorium (study), one late afternoon, gazing out the window, daydreaming. When there was a heavy knock on my front door. Startled out of my idea-catching mode, I went to the door, opened it, and there stood my old schoolmate, Tom. I ushered him into the scriptorium. I sat in my swivel chair and he plunked himself down on the settee.

“Long time, no see!”

“It’s been a fair few years, I guess.”

“It’s good to see you. Now, what’s on your mind, Tom?”

“Recently, I stumbled across your blog. I read your blog stories and I’ve also read your novels. I like your writing and I want to be a writer myself.”

“Thank you for the compliment. Do you want a drink?”

“No, thank you, I want to stay sober because I’m going to practice my writing later.”

“I find a glass or two of red wine helps me with my writing. Have you written anything lately?”

“Yes, I’ve tried my hand at a few short stories. My wife says they’re okay. But I question, can I write?” Tom looked confused.

“Well, my friend, there are a few measurements available to see if you can write.”

“Such as?” Tom said eagerly.

“Lets first take, “Technical Proficiency”, how well you understand the component elements of writing. Such as, dialogue, description, exposition, characterization, punctuation, grammar and narrative.”

“Oh boy, that’s a lot of elements.”

“That’s not all of them, also you have chronology, flashbacks, backstory, show or tell, tense and point of view.”

“You need to know all that?’ Tom looked worried.

“Of course, my friend, if you want to write well. Every element melds together flawlessly to create a powerful impression on the reader.”

“So, it’s like magic?”

“That’s right, the writer’s magic! You can get your reader excited, scared, angry and full of emotion. But they never see how you did the trick.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes, next comes “Structural Proficiency”, the more word count you have, the more demands on you as a writer. You have to understand pace, storyline, character arcs, suspense, conflict and twists.”

“What kind of writer are you, Dave?”

“Well Tom, I’m a blend of two types. I like to write chronologically sometimes and other times I prefer to write bits of the story separately, here there and everywhere. Just so I don’t lose the thread of the storyline.”

“Boy, this is interesting stuff, Dave,” said Tom, his eyes sparkling, “Tell me more.”

“A writer sometimes takes a strong experience in the present and it awakens a memory from his past, maybe childhood, from which he proceeds to write about a wish, or a daydream, which then finds fulfillment in his story.”

“So, what are the problems that a writer has starting out like me?”

“The problems are personality problems. The writer starts a story but loses heart and confidence, gets stuck and is blocked. Sometimes he writes good, sometimes bad. It’s frustrating! In other words, there are problems of confidence and self-respect. Then there are the demons of the subconscious, where a lot of our ideas come from.”

“Lots of problems then?”

“Yes, but you can work hard and get rid of the habits of thought that impede your progress. You must strengthen the right side of your brain, which handles expressive and creative tasks.”

“Any final words before I leave?”

“Yes, Tom, but they are on the light side. I asked a guy, the other day, what he did for a living.

“I’m a brain surgeon, what do you do?”

“I’m a writer,” I said.

“Oh, that’s what I think I’ll do when I retire,” said the surgeon, matter-of-factly.

“That’s interesting,” I said, “When I retire I want to be a brain surgeon!”



This article was posted by David Wise author of “Web of Guilt”, “24 Traumatic Hours, Twice”, and “The Becoming”.

All available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.


How Do You Live?

The question in this article’s title came to mind after I read, Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilych and watched the film, “Ikiru”. Both stories have a common theme of a man buried in bureaucracy, who has a terminal illness. He realizes he hasn’t lived at all! They both, through facing death, figured out their lives contained no meaning for them.

One of the quotes in “Ikiru” was; “Men are such fools, they only realize life’s beauty when they are faced with death.”

It makes you think: It’s man’s duty to enjoy life. Most of us, in our day-to-day routine, have artificial lives marked by shallow relationships, self-interest and materialism. This leaves us barren of meaning in our lives.

When the two protagonists face death it changes the way they see the world. Death forces them to give their life meaning that is their own.

If you look over your shoulder the Grim Reaper is right behind you. So, while you have life, enjoy it.

So much depression and neuroses happen in a person’s life because they feel life hasn’t any real significance. You and I live in the here and now. What will you do with the time that lies ahead of you? This time is unshaped and full of uncertainty. When you stand at this present point in life maybe you will take a completely different direction to the one which has made you who you are.

So, How Do You Live? You need to find something that is important to you. Some activity that you can throw yourself into, so you connect with the world in a way that you feel “things matter”.

Things happen in life (illness, lost of a loved one, etc.), but you can still find meaning in life if your attitude is positive.

I, personally, find meaning through writing. My writing ignites a spark in me so I am aware of the fact that I am alive and to make the most of it. There is so much to be written, it can keep you busy for a lifetime. So much to be explored through the written word. I have the freedom to write ANYTHING, but of course, it won’t be EVERYTHING!

That thought allows me to choose what I write about and those choices illuminate the meanings in my life. I write about what is meaningful to me.

Writing, to me, is what makes my life, in retirement, worthwhile.

That’s How I Live!


This article was posted by David Wise author of “Web of Guilt”, “24 Traumatic Hours, Twice”, and “The Becoming”.

All available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Right Or Wrong, That Is The Question

What constitutes a morally right action from a morally wrong action?

That question popped into my head after I watched the film, “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, with Woody Allen and Martin Landau.

I remembered there were two theories of moral philosophy, also known as ethics, one involving “consequences” and the other, “intentions”. So, what constitutes GOOD consequences and intentions, and BAD ones?

To add to the confusion, there is “moral relativism” which states there are NO moral facts. All moral evaluations are relative to the individual.

Plus, “moral objectivism” which states there ARE moral facts. The moral facts don’t depend on what anybody thinks.

In my mind, there are differences in people’s moral standards.

I wondered if the film could clear up some of these points. This movie has two stories and two protagonists. Judah Rosenthal, an eye doctor and pillar of the community, is one protagonist.

Cliff Stern, the second protagonist, is a film maker. His wife wants him to work on a documentary about her brother, a successful TV producer. While doing the film Cliff meets and falls in love with the documentary’s producer, Halley. In the end Cliff loses her to Lester, his wife’s brother. What links the two stories together is Ben, the rabbi, who is Cliff’s brother-law and Judah’s patient.

Now, Judah had a mistress, Delores, who threatened to spill the beans to Judah’s wife about the affair and some dodgy business dealings. Judah has his brother hire a hit man to kill Delores. In doing this, Judah is morally wrong, his action produced bad consequences and his intentions were suspect. He fell victim of moral egoism, his sole concern in making the decision was how it will affect him.


John Stuart Mill had a greatest happiness principle, which stated that the most important things in life are pleasure and freedom from pain.

So, according to this principle what has to be done to figure out what is the morally right decision?

List all the alternative actions the person has to choose from.

For each alternative figure out the total amount of happiness or unhappiness that would result from the decision.

The alternative with the greatest happiness is the morally right thing to do. Any alternative with less than maximum happiness is morally wrong.

Lets look at this with analyzing Judah’s decision to get a hit man to kill Delores.

What were his alternatives:

He could confess his infidelity to his wife. This would result in his wife’s unhappiness and his guilt. Maybe in the end would be forgiveness and adjustment.

He could decide to “do nothing”. Delores would be unhappy to continue living a lie. But everyone else would be happy if Judah could keep Delores quiet.

Or he could choose to hire the hit man, which he does. Delores suffers death and she has the right NOT to be killed. Judah suffers guilt, but his wife and family have the happiness of the status quo. Also, an innocent man was accused of the killing which wasn’t right.

In the last analysis Judah’s action was wrong because it produced the worst outcome than the other alternatives.

The end of the movie is chilling for a lot of people because there is no ultimate punishment for Judah, his guilt vanished in time and his life of wealth and privilege continued as if nothing happened.

So, why be moral in the first place?

Why do the right thing if we can do the wrong thing and get away with it?

Does conscience mean anything if everything (guilt,etc.) passes away with time?

In conclusion: We all face life decisions, moral choices, some big some small. We are defined by our choices. We hope we have the ability to keep trying to find joy and satisfaction from basic things, such as our family, our work and our passions.


This article was posted by David Wise author of “Web of Guilt”, “24 Traumatic Hours, Twice”, and “The Becoming”.

All available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.


Who Am I ?

The question of identity has always intrigued me. How to understand yourself and who and what are we as individuals.

After watching two films: “Being John Malkovich” and “Memento”, I became interested in the Psychological Continuity Theory of personal identity.

The theory states: what makes ME, me, are my psychological characteristics: personality, disposition, value system and worldview, all these change very slowly over time. Memory, also, achieves continuity.

In “Being John Malkovich”, the protagonist slips into Malkovich’s mind and sees the world through his eyes. But he doesn’t become him, or does he?

In “Memento”, the protagonist, Leonard, looses his short-term memory. Before the incident, the killing of his wife, Leonard is a bland law-abiding citizen, then he becomes a killer. Was this change the result of a changed personality or was it because circumstances changed and his personality adapted?

The film shown backwards in time disorientates the viewer. With memory loss does Leonard lose himself?

Many of Leonard’s “memories” were not genuine, they were distorted. For memory to be a link to psychological continuity it must be genuine.


Your personal identity in one sense can change. In my working life I was a time study, in my retirement I am a writer. So my idea of myself changed over time.


I often think: Am I the same person now as I was as a baby? My answer is NO, I am different. My DNA is the same, but that’s about it. I have changed physically and mentally through the years.

A better question would be: Am I the person NOW, who was here yesterday or a week ago? What evidence is there? Well, I rely on first-person memory: I remember doing something yesterday and it was done, so I am probably the same person I was yesterday.

How about the question: What am I?

I am a biological organism that is a collection of mental states and events. I am a bundle of all my perceptions; the world through my senses and the way I interpret what I am aware of.

Why am I concerned about my identity?

Because only I can be responsible for my actions and this gives me a reason to care about ME. I have a special, selfish interest in my own present and future. Identity matters to me practically. My identity is very important to me.


This post was written by David Wise, author of “Web of Guilt”, “24 Traumatic Hours, Twice”, and “The Becoming”.

All available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Learning Existentialism Through Film

You can learn about existentialism, which is a theory of philosophy, through film. Movies can help you understand philosophical views of the world.

The other day I watched two films. The first was a 1992 movie called, “The Crying Game”. Putting the plot of the film next to Sartre’s existential philosophy helps to explain some basic points of the theory.

Both films are highly interesting on their own without thinking about philosophical themes. But the two together give you an insight into the philosophy of the films.

The first is a story about an IRA “soldier” and his cell who capture a British soldier. Fergus, the IRA man, guards Jody, the soldier, and eventually is supposed to kill him. But he can’t and the soldier runs away only to be run down by a British armored car. Before this happens, The Brit tries to convince Fergus he can change his cold-hearted killer nature.

Jody asked Fergus if, after he is killed, will he look after his girlfriend in England. Fergus promises he would. In the end his nature is changed.

The film shows the existential view of freedom to choose and take responsibility for the choice. Fergus gave up his foundational beliefs and becomes a caring human being.

The film shows that our lives are the product of our choices and there are possibilities for transformation of our characters, they are not fixed!


The second film was “Lost in Translation”. The story of a man and a woman who meet and are at loose ends in their lives. They communicate about their situations to try to figure them out.

They both are attempting to escape their troubled situations. The man wants to escape his unhappy marriage and the woman wants to escape the uncertainty of her future.

The conclusion is: Escape isn’t an option, in fact, it’s not possible! You have to accept the fact that change will come from your actions. They both must make a choice in response to their present situations and then they must take full responsibility for their choices.

Films, like fiction, can make the transition to philosophical thinking easier and fun.