Monday, June 20, 2011

See what had happened

On Friday I was humbled. I was working in a friend's scene shop at his theater and saw something I was hard pressed to put into words. It was right then that I realized that I'm doing that all the time, every day: looking at things, thinking about things, and how I would describe them, in words to someone who hadn't been there to witness it. I guess to a certain extent that's what writing is, conveying something through words that only the writer can see, though, even that sounds wrong.

'Wood birthing steel' is what I came up with for the description of a spinning saw blade whirring up through a waiting block of wood, the stimulus only audible at first, and then, like a thin, steel head cresting out of its wooden mother, the experience became visual as I watched the biting metal create a burrowed slit. It was pretty cool, I must also add. I told my friend about the experience of looking at something I had no words, at the time, to give to someone else so they could experience it, too. It was an exciting challenge, one I wracked my brain over until I came up with the garbled gibberish I just gave to you. Likewise, the weekend was one of new challenges.

Because I didn't write that Friday. I was out very late (for me) on Thursday night, and woke up too drowsy and disoriented to write confidently. I'd been told that a person only needs about six hours of sleep to operate, but to function creatively the number rises to about nine. I believe it. Despite this faith, however, even with writing on Saturday morning in mind, I repeated my nighttime activity again Friday evening. I woke Saturday too early from too little sleep with a decision to make: man up and write with half a brain or risk trying to write three chapters Sunday morning. And I tried that once before already; it worked out about as well as I'm making it sound. So, I attempted to write, and made yet another discovery. The outlines called for three chapters to be written with different tones, some emotional, others dramatic. The one I tended to was mostly action-oriented, which, for me, has little to no discernable tone at all. There are loud noises and strange smells and bright lights but no real feelings, for the most part. Having committed to the edits on those this morning, I came away confident that I had made the right decision.

Sunday morning I finished up the writing, realizing that putting myself in a mindset where I could imagine a character crying, or wanting to but not, much more easily. I had a bigger resvoir of empathy and a better grip on my imagination. Also on Sunday I finished up my submission to a local book fair. It required a 100 word or less bio and a 175 word or less synopsis. The former wasn't so difficult; I spent most of the time finding the best adjectives and strongest metaphors. The latter created a problem of space. It just didn't feel like I had enough words. Without even trying, I overshot by a hundred and I was aiming at brevity. Getting that down to 175, and getting those 175 the best I felt they could be proved difficult. I didn't start that on Sunday, but I finally finished it, and sent it off this morning.

Looking back on what I was able to accomplish made me pleased. Only a few weeks left and I'll be ready to relax and start on something else (which is good because yet another story idea recently afflicted me, and has been growing in my brain). I do wonder if it was the presence of the challenges or the perceived triumph over them that makes me smile though. What the reason is, and what the reason should be.

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