07 April 2010

Unblurring My Religion

Pablo Picasso said, “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.”

Right now, I'm in the process of unblurring spots--the jargon is "pre-writing", "outlining", "brainstorming", "fleshing out the story", "freewriting".

I've reached a point in my YA fantasy Barmaglot where the story has taken over the writing, and I'm little more than the fingers ticking the letters on the keyboard. Although I like the story very much and am quite pleased with the story, I'm pretty much done as far as the "writer" aspect is concerned.

This happens to me as I complete a project.

And my mind begins to grasp at the straws of creativity because it's doing little more than perfunctory work at this point.

And any straw will do, really.

I'm never at a loss for ideas. I stub my toe in the dark of morning, and before the pain reaches mid-throb, a whole novel flashes through my head about a guy stubbing his toe in the dark of morning and what kind of day he is about to experience.

But, straws of inspiration do not bricks of Story make. And I know this. Ideas are ideas and not Story.

Sometimes, though, a blade of straw stabs me as if it were thrown by an Oklahoma tornado and impales me with an idea that just won't let go.

That's where I'm at now. As Barmaglot heads to its destined conclusion, I'm impaled by an idea for my next Story.

And I don't call this phase of my writing "pre-writing", "outlining", "brainstorming", "fleshing out the story", "freewriting".

For me, it's unblurring my religion.

It's not a question of talent or determination or desire or even time.

It's a question of faith.

Story first appears to me in blurry visionary form with only crumbs of character here, snippets of scene there, and smidgens of story everywhere all floating around in the amniotic fluid of creativity.

All these little yellow spots dancing and swirling around me. Little yellow spots that require my art and my intelligence to be transformed into Sun, into Story.

One Story focuses itself into crystal clarity and another Story starts to focus itself, to unblur the spot into Sun.

John of PatmosAnd I'm at my happiest because this is where Story is revealed-- a process of discovery and revelation in the truest senses of those words. I am John of Patmos sitting in my lonely cave with the vision of the divine wrapping itself around me.

The genius of Story is not in how much a writer does, but in how little. The work of a sublimely confident writer is not to include a single word to simply keep the reader's attention. He reduces each scene to its essence, and keeps the reader there just long enough for the reader to contemplate it, to inhabit it in the imagination. Story is not concerned with thrilling the reader, but with inspiring the reader with awe and wonder.

To turn the yellow spot into Sun.

See you on the bookshelves.

Larry Mike Garmon

1 comment:

  1. "Story is not concerned with thrilling the reader, but with inspiring the reader with awe and wonder."

    Wow - you are absolutely right. Readers who are inspired with awe and wonder wouldn't dare put a book down until they've squeezed every last drop from the pages.
    Great advice!