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Why I write, rather than draw - Elf M. Sternberg
elfs
elfs
Why I write, rather than draw
I saw a piece of art in a restaurant the other day that reminded me of why I am a writer and not an artist. The artist had created a bit of naive, folksy art, a clock in a glass box surrounded by an abstract miniature of a pier: bits of wood shaped and colored into planking, hand-carved seagulls and a small painted life-ring, all wrapped in twine in ways that suggested the ropes and lines of sailing vessels. The background was the appropriate blue and white.

If I had tried to make something like that, I would never have finished it. I wouldn't have seen the picture that I had made. I would have seen all the bits: the pieces of wood that I bought from a hobby store for a few pennies, the line of twine from a five&dime. I would focus upon the mistakes: the visible nicks, the places where the wrapped twine wasn't even. I would have angsted over the choice of font for the face of the clock.

When I write, I'm reminded of a quote by the rock star Sting: "I never finish a song. Eventually, I abandon it." I feel much the same way about my writing. I never finish a story. I write a story and decide if it has at least a complete plot with a denouement of some kind, and then I twiddle with it. Over and over again. Eventually, I abandon it. If it's complete, I let it sit for a while, then revisit it one last time six months later to try and catch every typo, and then I post it.

Sometimes I post it too soon. I found three typos in the Separate stories (Separate Electricities, Separate Responsibilities, and Separate, Together) and I'll upload the bugfixes later today.

When I draw, I don't see the face, or the room I'm drawing, or the building facade (when I'm outside I especially like to draw building facade's, as they're usually easy and have fascinating plays of light and texture). I see the lines. I see the mistakes. I see the places where I've marred the picture and debate giving up. I rarely finish a drawing.

I'm looking at my complete Journal Entries collection, all 346 episodes, a ridiculous number of which are labeled "incomplete," and I know that someday I might actually finish those. The only reason I'll finish those is because the delete button on a computer is absolute, and I can always start over. I know I can produce a thousand words faster than I can draw a picture. Whether other people will get it quite so acutely is still something I can't answer.

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Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: Alizee', Moi Lolita (illict/vocals mix)

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mothball_07 From: mothball_07 Date: September 7th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Myself, I need the finality of ink, paint, or knife on paper. If I can change it too easily, I'll twiddle it until I suck the life out and eventually abandon the broken shell of what could have been art.

My artistic goal is free flowing watercolour. The kind where the lines are implied and the colours merge. That is, for the most part, a "put it down once and live with it" endeavor. I aspire to relax enough to enjoy it. Until then, my best art is paper cutting. I can fiddle the patterns to my heart's content, but eventually I have to stop and DO something, and it can't be changed.
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