… Studying, on the Train, … Young Adult, Headshot, One Person, People, Learning, Working, Exams, Train Journey, Writing, Notebooks , School, Golden Light, Girl, уроки, Work, Study by Alexandra Cook on EyeEm
[One of those pieces of text found in an abandoned hermit’s cave]
Sometimes, half asleep or delirious, like from behind a paper wall, we hear in our minds strange words or see strange pictures. Shadows or glimpses of what didn’t happen, won’t happen, wouldn’t happen. Or did it, will it, would it? How could the impossible be possible? How could an ordinary being comprehend that and after… go back to live an ordinary life?
…If the retreat at the Crossroads looked as a giant spaceship mostly buried underground, that’s because it really was. Like a metallic iceberg the very top of which was just above the surface. In the gaps between blossoming vines travelers could see dull bronze shine of an otherworldly contraption, all rivets and elegant curves.
Soon the hostess would come out, barefoot, ageless, long worn out dress with unearthly patterns, messy hair. She would offer a cup of herbal tea at a wooden table in a wild lush garden. Her large mysterious blue eyes would carefully study you. If you are lucky she would offer a room to stay. Inside you’ll find aged red damask fabric on the walls, plenty of dull metal and other discolorated leftovers of once opulent alien interior. The hostess will talk to you a bit. Be honest because lying won’t work. Be honest and you might hear a story or two of traveling between worlds, of danger and laughter, of friendship and love. She will talk to you because she is waiting and had been waiting for a very long time. She need to know when a right person will knock on her oval alien door…
… Adela was standing in the circle of men, all tall, dark hair, dark uniforms. They were almost clones, with only slight differences in their features. She realized that her old “friend” Lee Gallainus Ferrer was one of them, although now his hair was cut short and the face unshaven. The strange thing: none in the circle would look into her eyes. Not shy types, for sure!
– Please turn round, – said the voice behind her. She did, and this time the one who spoke was looking directly into her eyes.
She shivered. It was like starring into the heart of the Universe, cool blue light pouring out, stars forming and dying in blasts of energy… It was the light which could not be caught on camera. Living beings could see it, nevertheless.
– This strikes you every time, – she heard Lee’s voice in her head. – That is why being both his bodyguards and his prison guards, we are not allowed to look into others people’s eyes – when on duty.
She was standing in front of the last Iliodor himself, semi-ceremonial leader of the Galaxy, who would be the most powerful creature here would he be free. She felt paralyzed with fear and awe, still full of curiosity and… compassion…
For me it’s like this: I make up a novel in my head (there will be more about this later). This is the happiest time in the arc of my writing process. The book is my invisible friend, omnipresent, evolving, thrilling… This book I have not yet written one word of is a thing of indescribable beauty, unpredictable in its patterns, piercing in its color, so wild and loyal in its nature that my love for this book, and my faith in it as I track its lazy flight, is the single perfect joy in my life. It is the greatest novel in the history of literature, and I have thought it up, and all I have to do is put it down on paper and then everyone can see this beauty that I see.
And so I do. When I can’t think of another stall, when putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach up and pluck the butterfly from the air. I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk, and there, with my own hand, I kill it. It’s not that I want to kill it, but it’s the only way I can get something that is so three-dimensional onto the flat page. Just to make sure the job is done I stick it into place with a pin. Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV. Everything that was beautiful about this living thing – all the color, the light and movement – is gone. What I’m left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead. That’s my book.
The journey from the head to hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write – and many of the people who do write – get lost… Only a few of us are going to be willing to break our own hearts by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words.
It turns out that the distance from head to hand, from wafting butterfly to entomological specimen, is achieved through regular practice. What begins as something like a dream will in fact stay a dream forever unless you have the tools and the discipline to bring it out.
Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means that to get to the art you must master the craft. If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say. Write the story, learn from it, put it away, write another story. Think of a sink pipe filled with sticky sediment. The only way to get clean water is to force a small ocean through the tap. Most of us are full up with bad stories, boring stories, self-indulgent stories, searing works of unendurable melodrama. We must get all of them out of our system in order to find the good stories that may or may not exist in the freshwater underneath.
Does this sound like a lot of work without any guarantee of success? Well, yes, but it also calls into question our definition of success.
I never learned how to take the beautiful thing in my imagination and put it on paper without feeling I killed it along the way. I did, however, learn how to weather the death, and I learned how to forgive myself for it.
Forgiveness. The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life.
I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people from being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.
Beginners’ failures are often the result of trying to work with strong feelings and ideas without having found the images to embody them, or without even knowing how to find the words and string them together. Ignorance of English vocabulary and grammar is a considerable liability to a writer of English. The best cure for it is, I believe, reading. People who learned to talk at two or so and have been practicing talking ever since feel with some justification that they know their language; but what they know is their spoken language, and if they read little, or read schlock, and haven’t written much, their writing is going to be pretty much what their talking was when they were two.
Sometimes, half asleep or delirious, like from behind a paper wall we hear in our minds strange words or see strange pictures. Shadows or glimpses of what didn’t happen, won’t happen, wouldn’t happen. Or did it, will it, would it? How could the impossible be possible? How could an ordinary being to comprehend the Impossible and then go back to live an ordinary life? Will this being’s values stay unshattered afterwards?
The retreat at the Crossroads looked as a giant spaceship mostly buried underground. Like a metallic iceberg the very top of which is just above the surface. In the gaps between blossoming vines travellers could see dull bronze shine of (presumably) an alien contraption, all rivets and elegant curves.
Soon the hostess would come out, barefoot, ageless, long worn dress with unearthly patterns, platinum blond hair in a messy bun. She would offer a cup of herbal tea at a wooden table in a wild lush garden. Her mysterious blue eyes would carefully study you. If you are lucky she would offer a room to stay. Inside you’ll find aged red damask fabric on the walls, plenty of dull bronze-like metal and other discolored leftovers of once opulent alien interior. The hostess will talk to you a bit. Be honest because lying won’t work. Be honest and you might hear a story or two of travelling between worlds, of danger and laughter, of friendship and love. She will talk to you because she is waiting and had been waiting for a very long time. She need to know when a right person will knock on her oval alien door.
This is an old illustration I did for a science (fan) fiction novel we were writing with my hight school era friends.
A mother is serving tea to three kids, their dog is watching. Warm evening, veranda, moths circling the lamp. This woman worked hard to create her own little paradise, a perfect house in the woods on a green beautiful planet, hiding from the past, from the enormous Universe full of stars, horrors and wonderfull mysteries.
But her elder kid is weird. In a moment he will start seeing things, she will break a cup and all her cute world will break to million pieces…
I bet JJ Abrams won’t come up with anything like this. 🙂
Soft pastels and black watercolor on cardboard, late 1980s – early 1990s.
Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way
I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our livesare largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible. It’s best that I be as clear about this as I can—I want you to understand that my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much…