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NY-based writer talks about autobiographical impulse in writing

Karah Jane B. Sarita

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITING. Writer Tim Tomlinson, co-founder of the New York Writers Workshop, gives a lecture entitled, “The Four People (In me): The Autobiographical Impulse in Prose and Poetry (and me)” last Jan. 9 at the SU Library. PHOTO BY Kenno Elum

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITING. Writer Tim Tomlinson, co-founder of the New York Writers Workshop, gives a lecture entitled, “The Four People (In me): The
Autobiographical Impulse in Prose and Poetry (and me)” last Jan. 9 at the SU Library. PHOTO BY Kenno Elum

Co-founder and president of New York Writers Workshop conducted a talk entitled “The Four People (In me): The Autobiographical Impulse in Prose and Poetry (and me)” last Jan. 9 at the Silliman University (SU) Library.

Tim Tomlinson, author of poetry and short story collections, divided his talk into two parts: the autobiographical impulse and the four people a writer should have inside.

In Tomlinson’s discussion about autobiographical impulse, he stressed that trusting experience and working with experience is important.

According to Tomlinson, beginning to trust one’s own experiences is the start of writing great stories.

“We know that most great novels and stories come not from things that are entirely invented but from perfect knowledge and close observation,” Tomlinson quoted the American novelist James Salter’s answer when asked about autobiographical impulse.

Tomlinson said the idea of the talk came from the journals of Susan Sontag who implied that “in order for a writer to be great, the writer needed to have a four people in them – the obsessive, the fool, the stylist and the critic.”

He stated that the critic is something that needs to be banished from the writer’s composition because the critic is meant to kill their work.

“You’ll never get your work done if you worry about how great it is or how it compares to other people… It’s very important to be really forgiving of your work,” Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson also added how important it is to find people who will say ‘yes’ to your work.

The talk is one of the activities of Edilberto and Edith Tiempo Creative Writing Center which, according to its coordinator Lady Flor Partosa, aims to continue the conversation of literature and creative writing.

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