The Daily Scroll was created for visitors who want to learn more about all three. It’s bursting with imaginative micro-articles, cartoons & passages from the writings of authors & artists.

Fantasizing,Fotos,Fridays offer pictures chosen to stimulate our imaginations, awaken inspiration & allow creativity free rein to invent theories or micro-stories based on what we see. Imagination-Exercising entries--which appear on whatever day they feel like--provide a few words as inspiration for our creativity. Both are fun!

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

How Do You Write About the Indescribable?

Red Room, a website for professional authors, closed down earlier this month. The CEO gave us enough warning to deal with its unexpected death and recommended that we all migrate to WattPad. I chose to migrate my RR contents to "The Scroll Chamber" a website I created & abandoned in 2008.

The graphic you see above was at the top of my Red Room blog. I topped this entry with it because of the quotation,

"How do you put something indescribable into words?"

My question is based on something a fellow author said. But more about that in a moment. 

Authors aren't the only people who face this conundrum. If you'll allow me a change in medium, lyricists, artists, actors, teachers, sales representatives, parents, virtually everyone faces the dilemma at some point in their lives. Some of us battle--or cajole--this slippery problem many times a day. We have a "gut feeling" about something but we can't explain it. We're attracted to someone but we don't know why. We want to explain how something works or why an action makes sense--or doesn't-- but no combination of words, gestures or drawings can convey the certainty we feel. What to do?

When I was a fledgling author, I wrestled with how to describe a character's emotions accurately enough for a reader to grasp what I meant. Or how to convey the "forbidding" quality of a boulder-littered hill without saying,  "...Cara thought it looked forbidding". My solution in early drafts? Leave a space in the manuscript--which proved never to be large enough--and scribble a couple of adjectives as a note to self.

Why did no other authors have these problems, I wondered. What was I doing wrong? Would I ever learn to write whole c/h/a/p/t/e/r/s/  p/a/r/a/g/r/a/p/h/s/  sentences without leaving gaps?

I had been struggling alone with this for y/e/a/r/s/  decades before I joined a local authors' group called Written Remains. Sharing experiences, receiving suggestions about my writing and offering suggestions helped me more than either of the two online writers group to which I belonged.

The most useful bit of knowledge I ever received from Written Remains came when one of our meetings was breaking up. I asked Written Remain's creator, Joanne Reinbold, why she picked the name she did for the group. Were most members mystery writers at the beginning? Was "remains" a euphemism for the dead bodies?

I can't offer you a direct quote. However, Joanne verbalized that same frustration I had been feeling for so long. I wasn't the only author who lived with this.

We visualize a scene in which two characters are talking over each other, we feel the emotions of a character as if they are our emotions, or revel in the wide expanse of a countryside as the sun rises. A countryside that didn't exist a few seconds ago now displayed before our inner eye.

Excited, energized, enthused, we turn to the keyboard. And everything begins to fade before we can strike a key. The pitch of the wind, the scent of flowers, the odd light in the protagonist's eyes evaporate. Dare to think single word and it destroys better words from our inner ear. We study the fragments of dead leaves in our hand. A sigh wisks them to the floor and they're gone.

Our plight isn't that grave of course. Thank God, it isn't like we all suffer from recurring amnesia! Bits and pieces are still with us as long as we touch them gently with our thoughts. 

Never probe in hopes of resurrecting the whole. Desperate reaching for the entire mesmerizing image or the complexity of our antagonist's conflicting emotions will only scatter the fragments farther apart. Blurred... Transluscent... Invisible...

Quick! Quick! To the keyboard regardless! Write every word we can while we can. Whatever string of syllables that come, no matter the order or the lack of logic. Write all that remains and thank God that something always does. 


What the Bird Said Early In The Year
C.S. Lewis

I heard in Addison’s Walk a bird sing clear:

This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.

Winds will not strip the blossom from the apple trees

This year nor want of rain destroy the peas.

This year time’s nature will no more defeat you.

Nor all the promised moments in their passing cheat you.

This time they will not lead you round and back

To Autumn, one year older, by the well worn track.

This year, this year, as all these flowers foretell,

We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.

Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,

Quick, quick, quick, quick! – the gates are drawn apart.

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