Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Out My Window: Seeing Clearly

Generally, my writing space is pretty dismal. Oh, it's a nice enough room, as rooms go, but it's glacial in winter and blistering in summer. It used to be a porch, so there's no insulation. But there are windows. So, you’d think there would be light here. There is, but not in early morning.

If you're a morning person or even if you're not, you know the importance of that first hour. Especially if you're stumbling out of the bedroom (even after coffee) to sit down and write, hobbling into a cold, dark tomb of a writing space doesn't help. Because in those first hours, even with windows, my writing room is dark. My soul feels dark, too.

One advantage of this is that the inner darkness, partly inspired by, partly caused by the outer darkness, has a settling effect. It weights me, emotionally, to my writing chair. Since there's nothing else, I'm left to write, until the day opens up and the light comes, which can take hours, and in winter seems on some days not to happen at all. It makes me consider how important seeing, even when it's not with outward vision, is to writing, not to mention everything else.

In the book Writing Fiction, a Guide to Narrative Craft, Janet Burroway writes this in the chapter on showing versus telling. "The points to be made here are two, and they are both important. The first is that the writer must deal in sense detail. The second is that these must the details 'that matter.'"

At the moment, it's midday and the sun is shining, the neighbor's white dogwood is in bloom, birds are singing and the row of hemlock bushes is greening. Amazing what you can see when there's light.

How does what you see, or don't see, in your writing space, whether it's a formal office or a space in Starbucks, affect you?

For a way to put today's musing into action, check out the writing tip at the top of the list.

Let me know how it goes.

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