One of the many things writers can struggle with is finding their voice. It's not only limited to authors, either. Any creative expression should have the distinctive tone of the artist. When you look at a painting of one of the great masters you can say, That's Degas, or I would know the bold colors and strokes of Matisse anywhere. Van Goh, Dali, Picasso, Da Vinci, they all conjure up an image distinctly their own.
Music, too, has a signature declaration. You don't even need to go to the masters. When you listen to your local radio station, you can identify the songs you know, and categorize them in your mind by their particular nuances.
Writing is like that too. I'm still searching out a voice that I'm comfortable with. I'm changeable. I don't do things the same way twice very often. My friend, Jackie would say it's because I'm a Gemini. I'd say A.D.D. probably plays more of a role, but who's to say. Maybe all Gemini's are A.D.D., and we're both right. (There's a question to get a research grant for if ever I heard one.)
For years, I've been fascinated by the art of Robert and Shana Parkeharrison. Their intricate photographs are the true meaning of the expression a picture is worth a thousand words. Their visual environmental allegories stop you in your tracks.
I first was introduced to their work in 2004 when they were featured on a PBS program called Art Close Up. Here is how the producers of that program explained the Parkeharrison's work. Art Close Up delves into the complex and evocative imaginary world of photographers Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. The ParkeHarrisons use extensive research, elaborate props, multiple negatives, and antiquated photographic processes to fabricate an otherworldly narrative featuring Robert as an unnamed 'everyman.' Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Robert's character takes on Herculean struggles set in barren natural landscapes scarred by technology. For information on the work of Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, visit www.parkeharrison.com.
The program showcased my favorite gallery of their work, entitled Architect's Brother, which you can view along with their more recent works at their website. (A good sampling of Architect's Brother is also here at this website which I recommend going to first.) In this selection of pictures, they use an antique camera, and take several shots, overlaying the negatives to create a collage that fits together seamlessly to produce a haunting image of a world that could be.
So focused a vision of what you wish to represent is a fleetingly elusive target for me. Changeable. Unfocused. Wavering. Those are words that more aptly describe my writing at this point.
So the search within continues. What do I sound like? Is it okay to be someone different every hour of the day?
For a variety of reasons, my writing is going slowly. I'm finding, that when I go back and read earlier parts, the tone and feel of the story is different than where I am now. I hope it's because I'm more confident in my writing than I was before, but it could be anything.
We'll see as I go on, and if I ever actually publish anything how my voice develops. For now, I'll admire the voice and vision of others.
I grew up outside of Philly, a pretty cosmopolitan place. Theaters, concerts, museums, cheese steaks, you know, the works. Now I'm out here in the Boonies. (For clarifications purposes, the Boonies are about two steps closer to civilization than the Sticks.) Now, I like my area. Wild life comes right into the yard. Farms, though fewer than before, can still be seen as I drive from place to place. But I find myself still suffering from some culture shock. Not as acutely as when I first moved here, but culture shock just the same.
Every Wednesday night I tune out the sounds of gunfire as the block shoot goes on at the fire hall down the road from me. What is a block shoot, you may ask? It's where an establishment sets up a block of wood and guys come out and shoot it with their rifles. (No lie) I'm pretty sure the best shot wins a hank of ham. Truly, I'm not making this up.
We have off school the Monday after Thanksgiving because it's the first day of deer season. Again. Not making this up. Apparently, between the teachers and students, the school board feels there would be too many absences to justify holding classes.
At the local fireman's fair every year, there is an antique tractor show where the locals show off their old restored tractors. One of the highlights of the fair is the tractor parade.
And now, my husband has developed a new hobby. He's brewing hard cider in my kitchen. Kick-a-poo Joy Juice is fermenting not ten feet from me as I write. I married a closet moonshiner!!
I tried to fight it for 10 years, but this past year they've started to get their clutches in me as well. I now listen to . . . country music! And I like it!! I'm so afraid that it's a case of the pod people coming and taking over my body. Is redneck contagious, or is it something that lye soap could cure? Either way, pods or infectious disease, if I start hearing dueling banjos, I'm outta here!
Lots of sitcoms today rely on crass, tasteless comedy that panders to the lowest common denominator. I miss Cheers, Mad About You, and the old variety shows that were on from the beginning of TV up until the seventies. They had great writers. And great performers. Red Skelton. Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Steve Allen, Groucho Marx. Groucho had terrific writers, but much of his comedy came off the cuff. Here's a perfect example.
There are two other TV shows that are on today that I admire the writing and actors. The first is Supernatural. Great writers, and excellent performances. The actors, Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles, have a broad range. The writers provide them with excellent material, and the actors convincingly portray it. Here's a sample, though not humorous, a good cross section of what they can do.
The other TV show I enjoy is Big Bang Theory. The interactions between the friends are warm and funny. The writing is smart, and the delivery is great. It's a fun show. Here's an example of the humor.
Humor is tough to write. There are some who can do it, and do it well. I'm envious of them. It's a talent that few have. We need a little more laughter now with all the craziness going on in the world. More power to those guys who can make us snort.
There's a saying among motorcycle riders that there are two kinds of riders; ones who have laid their bikes down, and ones that are going to. Tonight I finally fell (pun totally intended) into the first group.
I went for a ride today. It was beautiful. High seventies, light wind, gorgeous clear blue sky. I had some small errands to run, so decided to take my Ninja. I did very well, even pushed the envelope a little in the speed department. To put my cycle in the barn, I need to execute a very slow and tight u turn to line it up correctly. Well, I miscalculated my speed by going too slowly, and the bike started to tilt too far. To get it to stand up, you need to give it a little gas to get the momentum up, something I've done on many occasions.
Only this time, the bike hit a dip in the driveway at the exact moment I was giving it some gas. My throttle hand jerked with the bike and revved the engine hard. I took out a support beam and hit some big saw horses. I got thrown to the side, and ran head first into the barn, while the bike landed partially on top of me.
Now, I'm not stupid. Or at least not too stupid. I have a brand new jacket with armor in it, and was wearing my helmet, so the only thing that got hurt were my legs. I'm sporting some road rash. My driveway is stone and weeds. It's pretty surreal when I think to myself, "Damn, I need to mow the driveway soon." (Don't get me started. I'll address that in another blog.) I have a huge lump on one leg, with some pretty bad gashes. The other has a smaller lump with brush burns.
Surprisingly, the leg that the bike landed on seems to be in better shape than the other one. Go figure. But for all I know it could be worse. Your brain can only process one pain at a time. Unfortunately it's the worst one, so that doesn't do you a whole lot of good.
Now the question is, do I get back on the horse and keep riding? Even though this horse supplies a lot more horse power than just one?
I mentioned in a previous post that this is not my first motorcycle, but I haven't ridden in four years. I've noticed I'm more leery now than back then. I know it's due to my age. I'm feeling my mortality to a greater degree. Things take longer to heal. I think twice before climbing a ladder. I don't play with as much abandon anymore. My dream of learning how to surf is dying a slow death because I can feel the physical limitations of my body much more than ever before.
I'm afraid I might be turning into a hypochondriac as well.
I don't have much close family. Neither of my parents had any siblings. I grew up without aunts or uncles or first cousins. I have some second cousins once removed, and some great aunts left. Oh, and one great uncle in Florida whom I've seen maybe ten times in my life. I tell you this because when it comes to family medical history, I come up with a big ole goose egg. Only the big stuff of distant relatives stands out.
Here's one story of medical import that is screaming at me right now. One of my mother's first cousins was a gym teacher. At the age of thirty-six (my age), she got hit in the leg with a softball. It formed a lump on her leg. In two weeks she died of an aneurysm. A blood clot had formed in her leg and traveled to her brain. So, here I sit as stove up as an old lady, stiff and sore with a case of road rash and a lump on each leg. Hmmmm. Do I freak out and call a doctor? Do I go to the emergency room? Do I go to bed and ignore it? I think I'll opt for plan C for tonight. Since Monday is a holiday, the doctors will be at home. So, my plan for now is to try and not freak out and then call someone Tuesday. Like I said, freakish hypochondriac tendencies are sneaking up on me as I get older. What's a girl to do?
Here's another little peek into my deranged psyche. After I take out the trash, I run up my driveway because I know that someday in the future when I won't be able to run, I'll miss it. Hopefully there won't be a dangerous psychopath on my tail when the day that I need to run does come along.
So what do I do with all these crazy little tidbits that crop up and confront me when something happens in my life? Dealing with getting older and the loss of youth are tough ideas to come to terms with. For now, I know I'll keep riding. The enjoyment outweighs the fear at present. But who knows what the future holds?
Hi guys. Can't talk now, writing. Apparently my inspiration is a forty-five minute block of time in the morning in a quiet house. I leave you with something that women of a certain age will appreciate. Enjoy!
Surprise. Another author in a rut. This ought to be original.
When I began writing, I was lucky enough to join a great writer's group, CPRW, http://www.cprw.org/wordpress/ (thank you yet again, Megan, for the hard sell!). It was one of the better decisions I ever made. A few of the authors really welcomed me, and have been instrumental in helping me to get through the submission process.
I've been reading their stories/books as well as their blogs, and it always amazes me how their voices are so unique and the different perspectives they bring to a topic, or the ideas they share. As I wrote on my website, everyone has their lens through which they view the world, but I'm not going to discuss the nature versus nurture theory today. I'll save that one for later.
Right now I'm more interested in inspiration. Natalie, Megan, and Misty have shown themselves to be very prolific in their writing. Vicki keeps her numbers closer to her vest, but I have no doubt she puts out the word count. How do they do it? Is it a combination of inspiration and determined persistence? My output the past few months has been pretty pathetic. It's easy to get into a downward spiral. I have lots of scapegoats - life interfering, waning enthusiasm, rejection, exhaustion . . . Congress. But, in the end, that doesn't get the job done.
My theory is to work through the low plateau I'm resting on. Hard work will sustain you and see you through. It's something I've heard all my life. But where does inspiration come into play?
Any creative endeavor needs both.
When I was seventeen, I wandered into a small art gallery in Barcelona, Spain where they were having a Picasso exhibit. It featured many of his early works, including his masterpiece. It was an enormous painting done in oils, taking up most of the floor to ceiling space on one of the gallery's largest walls. The subject was his sister's first holy communion. After completing this painting, he was deemed a master of light and shadows. I could well believe it. The candlelit church with its dark, imposing wood, contrasted the girl's white communion dress. Her gossamer veil, folded over on itself in layers, was so realistic I felt as though I could reach out and straighten it. I could easily imagine the young girl turning to stand after receiving her communion and making her way down the aisle of the richly appointed cathedral. He painted this masterpiece when he was fifteen. Picasso, at age fifteen was considered one of the great masters. Where do you go from there? He'd done it all in the realm of realism. Picasso decided his inspiration lay in Cubism, and it's what he's most well known for today. His paintings became more surreal and sparse until some of his most famous were limited to a countable number of brush strokes. His inspiration took a major turn, and he opened up a new, and still to this day, controversial avenue of creativity. Where did the inspiration come from?
Let's take a brief look at another master. Mozart. Mozart wrote his first Sonata at the age of four. By age ten he'd written several symphonies. His first opera was completed at the age of twelve. Obviously he was inspired. But he doesn't veer into the avant garde. He continues in the same vein, though, decidedly his pieces range in sound and style (Unlike Beethoven, who you can usually tell as soon as his begin, that it's one of his compositions.) Mozart was inspired to write a variety of music in the Romantic style. Though, he died at the age of thirty five, you never know what he would have done had his life not ended so early.
I don't consider myself anywhere near the same level as these two famous men. I'm looking at inspiration, not talent. So, where does this leave me? I know how to work hard. But inspiration? Where do we get it? How can I drum some up? As I sit with my head in my hands, staring at the open document of the W.I.P. I've decided to obsess over, how do I juice up my brain and get inspired to continue? Caffeine is not the answer. Trust me, I've already tried. I guess I'll just keep chugging along, plodding through, until my muse decides to perch on my shoulder and whisper in my ear. I wish he'd hurry it up already. My caffeine buzz is about to wear off. And if that happens, things will get really ugly.