Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Story Behind The Art

I'm an artist by trade and the urge to write came quite by surprise. I've dabbled in it a bit before but nothing as monumental as writing a mystery novel. Writing, I found, and very much to my surprise, was just painting with words. With a brush I can gently stroke indigo blue or vermilion onto a canvas to shadow a face in remorse. The same can be said of the words I brush across a page to project that same face, slowly drawn down into the collar of a borrowed, wool coat that was shiny from wear, yet retained the strength in its weft and warp to comfort a penitent soul. Add to that the ability to close my eyes and see how sunlight would dance across a marble floor after a rain, or how the long shadows of dusk transform even the most ordinary of objects into that which we fear most, is inspirational. I enjoy the writings of Agatha Christie and Henry Fielding, but I draw inspiration from the stories hanging on the walls of museums.
As an artist I've captured only a single moment in this skater's life, but as a writer I can fill in the lifetime that came before and after this moment.

"The Skater"
Original Oil after Sir Henry Raeburn, collection the artist/author.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reading between the lines.

Just a quick thought on those meanings behind the words. Writers take up pen and write for many reasons. In the same respect, readers pick up books and read with the same ideas in mind. Some to get a better insight on a person or event, some to escape the the realities of life and others purely for relaxation or entertainment. I read to relax and broaden my knowledge, which includes the subtle, sometimes hidden agenda found in some works of fiction. When you read between the lines you will find there are still those out there like Dickens and Fielding who interlace in the pages of their work a greater awareness of social injustice, or political ineptitude, or any other social malady that needs a champion. You need only thumb through the headlines to find a cause and then charge forth into the pages of a good novel. I write with a hope to entertain and not disappoint those who have willingly invested their time in me. That's not to say I don't have my opinions. If I feel strongly enough to interject a few random thoughts into the story line through my characters, and something they say brings an issue out into the open, then that's certainly a plus for the issue. It's a very inoffensive way to arouse awareness without turning the work into a platform for debate; we have enough non-fiction work doing that. I'll feel good knowing I've done something more than just write a mystery, albeit small, and hope when a reader finishes my book they look at the person next to them and say, "Hey, that was pretty enjoyable."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Write what you'll know about tomorrow.

I was participating in a conversation recently about motivating young adults to write. Someone mentioned when they address young writers on this subject they suggest they only take on subjects they know, and not venture into unfamiliar waters; siting the fear of discouragement as the reason. I was quite surprised at this, especially coming from an author. My argument was that a young writer should never limit themselves to only what they know. The whole idea seemed preposterous to me. How would knowledge ever expand? How would "style" ever evolve? Look at the mystery genre. If people only wrote about things they knew, it scares me to think there are that many writers out there who know how to murder people in so many creative ways.
Young writers have their own take on the world. Because of their age, the world is still new to them and they should be encouraged to challenge the norm. Because something was held as fact yesterday does not mean it will be acceptable as fact tomorrow. A young writer should seek out subjects that intrigue them and learn as much as possible about them. One of the greatest aspects of writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, is the research and discovery process. This also applies to style and structure. They should take hold of a topic, build a passion within and then set that passion to words. Sure, they'll stumble along the way, that's inevitable, but that too is part of the process. Look at the great Impressionists. The artwork we now acclaim as genius was once panned by the critiques. Writing is painting with words and, in that respect, it's an extension of our inner self. It's how we express that which inspires us to pick up the pen. Some will cheer at the result and some will pass it by, but they will never know if the work goes unwritten.