News + Muse

Mosaic Making

“…Thus out of the farm lands, out of my husband’s interests, out of the people and things about us, out of the accounts I read and the things I imagine, I put the mosaic together, creating a character whom I respected.”

– Elizabeth Coatsworth, Authors and Illustrators of Children’s Books, pg. 93

First drafts are wild things.  I think I have a sense for the characters and how things are relating.  Yet, every day I work on my draft its colors shift like a sunrise, and today I wonder if I have wandered too far from what I first sensed it to be.  Do I reign it back in?  Or let it run it’s course?

I revisit my material — those bits and pieces of my experience that have made a particular cluster in my mind.  It is their story I’m trying to tell.  Am I telling it?  And I wonder at my mosaic.  Am I being too choppy and rough?  It is one story, but I am trying to tell it in a collection of ditties, poems, and vignettes.  But maybe it’s a collection because I am not weaving my material as I should … I should integrate more, yes?

News + Muse

Making Matter

“… I never know where the next word is coming from …” – Flannery O’Connor, Habit of Being pg. 343

How do I enter in when I don’t know where I am trying to go?

Jump.  Just jump and start making some stuff; a pile of material, a bunch of garbage.  Later from the heap I can pick out scraps of value and rework them.  But first job:  make matter.  No judgements.  No stopping to edit.  No looking back.  Just keep moving.

My strategy thus far has been to put my hands on the keyboard, close my eyes, and say a bunch of silly nonsense words until images start presenting themselves to me.  Then I write in the quickest lamest jot what I am seeing and hearing.  For a couple hours I stream it out, kind of like bleeding or vomiting.

This has worked remarkably well.  I am not hit with a mass of vision all once, but one image leads to another, leads to another, leads to another, and two thousand words later I find I have actually made some progress my imagination.