Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Think of Your Writing as Art

I’m baaack! And I’m so far behind. Already. But enough about all the “stuff” I have lined up this week.

Los Angeles was a whirlwind. From the time I set down my suitcase to the minute Exton dropped me off at the airport to leave, we were moving. Mostly we were either walking or driving, from one end of L.A. to the other and back twenty times. We were even briefly on horseback, which is a tale for a book, at least the part about me getting off Margarita. Exton drives like a native Los Angelean, which means laid-back Helen spent a great deal of time gripping the door armrest.

It was four days immersed in art and I had a great time. We went to the Getty Villa and then on another day to the big Getty Museum, then to the Topanga Canyon Gallery, the Orlando Gallery, and several others, then spent a day at The Brewery Project at the big ArtWalk. The Brewery is a big complex of buildings where, according to Exton, thousands of artists work and live. Can you imagine thousands of writers living and working together in a big complex of buildings with lofts and studios? We’d probably all go nuts. Excuse me, nuttier. But, oh, the critique groups we could put together.

Walking through the Getty Museum, I was looking at paintings and thinking that, like writing, art is in the details. If you stand far back from one of the masters, it’s like reading a logline for a book or a query letter. You see the big strokes. A query shows the overall picture – the protagonist, the motivation, the conflict, your own passion. But it’s when you get up close that you see the artwork. The details, the fine brush strokes, the shading, the complexity. The brilliance. The uniquenss.

It’s interesting to think of your book as if it were a painting or a piece of sculpture. You know in your head what the overall picture will be, but you labor on the fine points, the details, the twists and turns, the layers. If it’s not working, you paint over it and start again or you do touch ups and color changes until it’s what you want. You add layers of complexity, obstacles for the protagonist to overcome.

Writing is an Art. That makes you, the Writer, an Artist.

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