Writing Quote

"Don't write merely to be understood.
Write so that you can't possibly be misunderstood."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, May 27, 2013

*gasp!* A New Post (and a new talent, too)

2013 is rushing headlong toward its halfway point and I have yet to write any fiction this year. That's okay because I say it's okay. Instead, I've been learning why I do not, under any circumstances, want to become a literary critic. Of all the papers I had to write for that class, this is the paper I should have written, but never got to and never will. I've already gone too far on this subject. Since that isn't the point of this post, lets shift gears.

The other thing I've been doing is giving the right side of my brain a run for its money. I took a drawing class this last semester and even though I put in three times as many hours (at least) for this class as I did for my blankity-blank Lit. Crit. class, I love love LOVED it. Before this class, I could not draw to save my life. Okay, I could do a passable stick figure, but that was about it. Now you can actually tell what the thing I drew is supposed to be. Actually, I was completely surprised at how well some of my drawings turned out. Yeah, I'm going to brag a bit. Here I go:

Her Magic Wands

First Generation Heirlooms

Crosshatched Fish

India Ink- Do Not Eat

More India Ink

Bathrobe on a Chair

Blue Bin Reject

Bibbity Bobbity Booboo

Legendary Huntsman
 Okay, bragging over. There are a couple of reasons I decided to include my drawings on my writing blog. First, my writing is the reason I took the drawing class. I hoped if I could draw better, I might be able to use drawing as a kind of exercise to help me get unstuck with my writing. I could sketch out the scene I'm having trouble with; draw a character that I need to get to know better. Second, I learned some things which made a huge difference in how I approach drawing that I hope might help me with my writing.

My teacher talked a bit about learning to see what you're looking at. That resonated with me in a way I can't describe. The brain automatically interprets what you're looking at, so you don't really see it at all. You don't notice how the shifts of light on a person's face defines their features. You don't notice how a red rose might have blues and purples in its more shaded areas and yellows in it's lighter ones. You look at a person at 3/4 profile and you know they have two eyes. So your brain interprets the face as having two eyes. But what you may have failed to see is that the far eye is all in shadows and you can't actually see it at all. If I were to draw that person based on what I know rather than what I see, the drawing would come out looking odd, and I might not be able to tell you why. In most of the above drawings, I spent more time just seeing than I spent drawing.

What's that got to do with writing? I am told all the time to write what I know. I hate that expression. It doesn't help me at all. Instead I'd like to write what I see. I don't always know exactly what is happening in my stories. For a least part of the writing process, even if it's just during the planning stage, there is an exciting discovery happening inside my head. So even if I can't accurately describe what's happening, I can describe what I see. When I read a book, I don't want to know what's going on. I can get that by reading reviews or asking my friend who just finished the book to tell me about it. I want to see what's happening. In fact, I want all my senses engaged. I want my emotions jostled. This idea makes me want to avoid interpreting my own fiction for my audience and, instead, present what I really see in my mind.

And now that finals are over and I have the whole summer off from school (but not from life, unfortunately), I can put this new theory to the test. Time to dust off my pen. Wish me luck!