Monday, April 27, 2015

on writing - the rarer wisdoms

Bring all your intelligence to bear on your beginning.
- Elizabeth Bowen

One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it,
all, right away, every time.  Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the
book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.  The impulse to save
something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now.  Something
more will arise for later, something better.  These things fill from behind, from
beneath, like well water.  Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have
learned is not only shameful, it is destructive.  Anything you do not give freely and
abundantly becomes lost to you.  You open your safe and find ashes.
- Annie Dillard

By Jen Corace

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

photo stories and a note on writing intimacy

In a written story, intimacy can be communicated through a variety of things, in a variety
of places, via a variety of senses, but in utilizing these, it's most important for the sake of
the reader for something unique to be communicated, something past cliche, something
impossible to grasp if the scene were portrayed on film.  This is the power of words, after
all, to tell a story - a truth - better than most other mediums can.

See these examples:

He moved his fingers down her whole spine, one by one by one, and during the time it took
to do that, his brain remained absolutely quiet.  It is these empty spaces you have to watch
out for, as they flood up with feeling before you even realize what's happened; before you
find yourself, at the base of her spine, different.
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender

Unthinkingly I straightened, so that she would think better of me.  Such was her presence.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin

The skin of her hand looked transparent in the light, on the edge of his desk, a young girl's
hand with long, thin fingers, relaxed for a moment, defenseless.
- Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

He wants only her stalking beauty, her theater of expressions.  He wants the minute and
secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, then foreignness intimate like
two pages of a closed book.  He has been disassembled by her.  And if she has brought
him to this, what has he brought her to?
- The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

So, these photos.  What could words add to the storytelling present in these photos?  How
could words take these images of intimacy from slightly distant to up-close, vivid,
unforgettable?  What might be said beyond describing the light, the assumed sensations
of touch?  What details might be added to take a scene from typical to truly intimate,
almost disarmingly so for the reader?

By Hana Haley