Saturday, November 5, 2011

An Ocean of Words



Not only am I writing a book, allegedly anyway, but I also seem compelled to write about the book here. It's only day 6; perhaps I'll get tired of doing both. There's a way in which I hope I will tire of the process. It's addictive; I see how writers' lives can veer way out of balance, as they turn inwards to the exclusion of the rest of life.

I think about Isaac Newton, squirreling himself away in a small cottage out in the country while a bout of the plague ran rampant through the city. For a year he was mostly alone. He was miraculously in possession of a 600 page book of plain paper which was very rare in the 17th century. He noticed sunlight breaking into rainbows as it passed through a crystal on the windowsill. He watched the natural order outside his cabin. He saw things, figured it out, then wrote. The people who know a whole lot more about his life than I do say that during this time he made his greatest discoveries about physics. Thank goodness he had the book, and that he wrote it all down!

Writing and reading are very recent developments in the history of our species; the art is still unfolding. It always blows me away to remember that the classics of western literature were written by hand, with a pen. It's almost unthinkable now, that War and Peace, for instance, was written by hand. Typewriters are a very recent invention that changed everything about the art of writing. Writing used to be the domain of a privileged few - now everyone writes, and almost everyone publishes their writing. It's interesting to think about.

Similar to my attempt to learn the bass, doing this "fiction" writing is more about process than result. The same is true in my painting and drawing. The end result is not nearly as interesting as the process. I love the dance of art, the act of creating. At heart I am a performance artist. The paintings, drawings, this blog, and now, the book, are more like residue after the fact, disposable, in my opinion. I wonder if that makes any sense.

I've plateaued in some way or another with the writing. I'm still writing, but what's coming through me is Deuteronomy. I'm immersed in describing, including the smallest details, all the rules my protagonist lives by. She has a rule for everything, whew! I made the commitment to go with the flow of the writing, and so I carry on, but oy, the flow is kind of boring at the moment. I'm far ahead of the benchmark in terms of words; maybe I'll lay off from writing for awhile, see if a brief rest stokes my imagination a bit.

Enough writing on writing! While I sit here contemplating, the world is ongoing outside the front door. I'm going to get out there this morning, engage with this beautiful fall day. For today, no NaNoWriMo. Yeah. L'chaim, y'all!!

11 comments:

ellen abbott said...

I get it. People ask me if it's hard to sell my pieces and it's not, really. By the time they are finished I'm usually done with them because it's about the creating, the making. that's where the fun comes in, the enjoyment, the engagement. and when I finish a piece, there's no more of that so I'm focused on the one currently in process.

Reya Mellicker said...

People I know who have successfully published book say the book tours are awful because everyone wants to know what's in the book while the author is completely sick of it, ready to move on.

Reya Mellicker said...

What's great about you, though, Ellen is that what you create is GORGEOUS and gives pleasure to all the people who encounter it afterwards.

Pam said...

Love your sense of adventure Reya!

California Girl said...

I'm curious. What do you mean when you write, "...now everyone writes and almost everyone publishes their writing, it's interesting to think about" ? I'm not sure whether to take this literally or ...?

Reya Mellicker said...

I meant it literally. You just published a comment here, some haiku form, or so I think it will be seen in the future. We blog, we comment, tweet, IM, text ... we write all the time. Fifteen years ago far fewer people engaged in writing and reading. I think it's cool!

Steve Reed said...

It IS cool that so many people write -- except for those of us who are writers and intended to make our living that way. "Citizen Journalism" is good for society but it's not great for journalists. :)

C.M. Jackson said...

Reya--just caught with your last few posts---this is so cool--good luck on writing your novel--can't wait to hear more about it!

You have inspired me---I am putting NaNoWriMo on my to do for Novmeber 2012!!

Best-
Cheryl

Reya Mellicker said...

Steve it's a new era - and I predict a new career path for you. Yes? I say yes!

jeanette from everton terrace said...

What? Have I been gone that long? You are writing a book? Seems the world just keeps spinning and creating whether I'm paying attention to it or not - amazing :)
I will read anything you write of course.

Pauline said...

Engaging with the world outside your door - always a worthwhile exercise and one that ought to stimulate that "sluggish" imagination ;)