Word Drawing

I have been a little bit resentful, over the past few years, of the fact that I can’t draw. I have wished that I had been a visual artist instead of a writer. I think that, for people who are very dedicated to the work they’re doing, neither one is really easier. But… but. I am convinced that my finished product as an artist would come across much closer to what I’m trying to express. When I write, I often do not feel like readers understand the work. I say this in part because my very favorite flash fiction pieces are never anyone else’s favorite.

It gives me the impression that no oneĀ gets me (as a writer–let’s not to into no one getting me as a person). And how will any publisher or agent ever want to work with me if no one gets me?

That’s part of the purpose of editing and struggling to create the story you really want to tell. The reader can only do so much on their own. It is up to the writer to make it possible for the reader to “get” them.

I’m sure it’s the same, sometimes, for artists. But in a different way. I’m sure artists sometimes execute the picture just as they intended but do not really have any way to explain what it means. As a writer I can get my meanings across often just as I intended (or as close as I could possibly come, and of course sometimes the actual meaning is missed entirely), but I can’t convey the picture as I see it. I can describe a field dotted with trees under blue sky brushed with purple in the early dawn, but is my reader seeing the same field I envisioned? The most likely answer is no. They aren’t.

Imagery is very important in writing because it helps the reader understand and engage with the story and the world the writer has created. However, it’s also very hard. Chances are, no matter how precise your details are, readers will interpret them into various versions of the writer’s original image.

If I could draw or paint, the image, though processed differently by each viewer, would remain the same.

Thinking about it, this just seems like a control issue. So I’ll just say, “Lighten up. It’s no big deal.”

 

*** I was going to edit this, and then I didn’t feel like it, so here you go, totally raw writing.

Advertisements

Melan-Kali

Some days you feel the weight more than others. The phrase is usually “a weight on the heart/soul.” Wherever this metaphysical burden is resting, you feel it in your body. It’s painful. You want to run wild and lie still at the same time, pull on your hair or scratch at your skin.

I’m restless. Calm is becoming a distant memory, near-constant anxiety taking its place. But I did fall asleep last night.

I’ve heard that people are in life just where they want to be. People have what they want to have. I think that’s very true and also very untrue. Like Nature Vs. Nurture. Why does one preclude the other?

“Don’t you want good things?” Yes, I want good things. I want all good things and happiness and peace.

“Art comes from pain.” I can write from the memory of it just as well as from a current experience. Better, perhaps – more intention in the writing with some distance from the feeling.

 

I wanted to look up the roots and origination of the word “melancholy,” but you need a membership for the OED. Or a physical copy – good luck with that one…

Virginia Woolf, one of the greatest writers of all time, killed herself. She walked into the ocean with stones in her pockets. She had a thing about the ocean. Wrote a book, called it The Waves. It was about people, actually, about experience? Or about struggling. One of the characters died. I can’t remember how.

Who is responsible for all of this? Higher powers, with names or without them? An old man in the sky? Or, much more realistically, a power the form of which is not even remotely like human? Is it fate, or chance? Is it me?

Is it?

If it is… is that the weight?

Thoughts on Reading: The Tale of Murasaki

I’ve been reading The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby for some time now. On some days I’ll sit and read 50 pages, others only 5, making the going overall rather slow. I’m about halfway through now, and having made an observation that I find interesting, decided to share it.

This book is description-heavy. On every page there is some description of the surroundings, so much imagery that the book is like an overstuffed furniture piece of a story. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing. On the contrary – overstuffed furniture tends to be very comfortable – the kind you can sink into and not want to leave for hours. And, as the story is told from the point of view of a writer (and we tend to be observant people), the extreme level of imagery is not out of place. I only notice because it’s not common to have quite that much description.

I recollect that even in other books that do seem to describe the scenery quite often, the author will give you enough to picture where the characters are and then move on. While seamlessly weaving in plot and dialogue among the bombardment of images, Liza Dalby seems, at times, to continuously remind you where Murasaki is. (Or, Murasaki constantly reminds you/herself of where she is.) It emphasizes Murasaki’s awareness of the world. I do think it’s brilliant, and the writing is so artful that it doesn’t get old – not to mention how beautiful a picture of Japan is created by the descriptions. It seems to me, as well, that it takes an extra dose of dedication to keep up such an approach throughout a 400-500 page book.

Now, out of curiosity, I ask: Would you have noticed such a thing in reading this book? Would you have thought it important? Do you think that too many writers get sidetracked with descriptions? – Because I think that a lot of writers do get caught up in telling the reader exactly what a character or world looks like, before they give us cause to care. While description is a good writing excercise, I think it shouldn’t dominate the writing. If you don’t have the content to go along with it, all the pretty pictures in the world will not, in fact, make the story good.

That is not to say that, sometimes, description can’t be an entire story. Flash fiction, at least, could utilize this idea.