Monday, February 20, 2017

The lingering gaze

The best part of a home-improvement show is, of course, the big reveal, where they take you through the newly built or renovated space and show you how it looks.

On some shows, the film editing is done in an extremely annoying manner. The camera pans slowly over an area, but just before we can absorb what we're looking at, there's a jump cut to some other area. Sometimes the screen will split, showing three or four areas simultaneously. It's all jump cuts and sudden flashes. After five minutes of touring the place, I feel as if I haven't really seen anything, because the eye hasn't been allowed to linger anywhere.

That lingering gaze is one reason I enjoy reading above video or audio of any kind. When I'm reading, I can speed up or slow down at will. I can reread certain lines. We now have the ability to freeze, fast forward, and rewind through other media, but it isn't quite the same. A mumbled or rushed line is still mumbled or rushed in replay. With reading, I decide on the volume and pacing of every line. I build all the scenery, and I may add details that aren't specified in the text but seem to fit. I can stare at everything as long as I want to. I can let a really good line of dialogue hang in the air without abruptly stopping the background music and turning the characters into mannequins.

People do like having control, and maybe this is one reason reading has endured as long as it has. I love the ability to savor.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hints of change

Thursday's (scant) snowfall is still melting. But today I found a witch hazel bush in full bloom, and spied some shoots of spring bulbs peeking above the soil.

In every season are hints of the season to come. If this were a book, we'd call it "foreshadowing."

In the happiest scenes in books, we often plant a seed of disturbance, a suggestion of trouble to come. In the darkest scenes, we make room for a glimmer of hope. One thing we know: the change will always come.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Percolating

I don't know if every writer experiences this phase of writing--maybe some writers jump from project to project with full force and no pauses--but it's typically been part of my process. I'll call it "percolating," for lack of a better word.

It's the phase when I have part of a story--a character, a voice, a basic plot or situation--but not enough to start writing. Something's bubbling away in my brain, but it's at a subconscious level. I get glimmers, slivers of dialogue, flashes of partial scenes. I try sketchy outlines, I do stream-of-consciousness writing exercises. I do a lot of thinking.

During this phase, I often write scenes and openings that don't go anywhere. Starts and stops, trial and error. I am finding my way in to the story. I am waiting, but part of me is working. The progress is invisible. But a change is happening.