Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)
Today I’m looking at finding the artistry in artlessness and the artlessness in artistry. Artlessness has some interesting and unexpected meanings. Yes, it does mean without art, but it also means free from deceit, cunning, or craftiness; ingenuous 2. not artificial; natural; simple; uncontrived. And when I looked up ingenuous, I found: free from reserve, restraint, or dissimulation; candid, sincere 2. artless, innocent, naive. So this got me thinking about the wisdom in naivete and the naivete in wisdom. So I decided to use my honeycomb filters out in nature and got some fun results. I didn’t remember which of the big five abstract nouns I had categorized artistry and artlessness under and was happily surprised to find it was Beauty, not Wisdom. So this creates an interesting connection. Before (back in June) I talked about the famous Keats quote:
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
But do we need to add, and Beauty is Wisdom, thus by the transitive property Truth is Wisdom? This could add an interesting connection between my characters in my novel. How will I show artistry in artlessness and artlessness in artistry? I already have an idea. It will link the opening scene to the end of the second act going into the third.
Today’s prompt is to write an adaptation poem. The second chapter of Tony Hoagland’s The Art of Voice, “Showing the Mind in Motion presents Gerald Stern’s poem, “Blue Skies, White Breasts, Green Trees,” as a model poem as an exercise in writing a poem where the speaker’s mind is in process. I really like the idea of the poem, the speaker recognizes misinterpreted perceptions. I thought this would be a great exercise for looking at how humans adapt.
Accepting an Arduous Adaptation
~after Gerald Stern
What appeared to me as a clear blue lake
turned out to be a dried out basin
holding invading bivalves in its alluvion
and what sounded like the whistle of a ghost train
on these long-crumbled timber trestles
turned out to be the Amtrak taking the people elsewhere
with hopes of quenching death’s thirst somewhere
It was my hope deluding me,
creating mirages in the acrid haze
for what I believed was a bather about to dive
turned out to be a fire starting from the glare hitting glass
and what I saw as a boat pulling a water-skier like always
was really a pile of dead fish about to explode from expanding gas
and what I felt was a lovely long summer that wouldn’t end
turned out to be the last gasp of life on earth
and a new adaptive species emerging.
Yesterday, I hit the twenty-five thousand word mark in this new novel draft. I really can’t believe it. I’ve never had such a smooth and consistent NaNoWriMo experience. I wake up every morning excited to start working on this novel. I hope you are having a similar experience.
So far I have mentioned all five of my Big Five contradictory abstraction characters, and three of the five have been in scenes. I’m getting to know my protagonist and antagonist pretty well, and I enjoy them both. I thought today would be a good day to explore some character exercises as I move into the second act of my story. I need to get deeper into my main characters’ motives and desires and get to know the rest of the characters better.
Since I know physical description of characters is one of my weaknesses. I thought the exercise, “Character, Character, on the Wall . . .” from Caroline Sharp’s A Writer’s Workbook would be a good place to start. In this exercise you start by doing a character description of yourself, describing yourself as if someone who didn’t know you was reading it and then had to pick you out in a crowd. I think I’ll write this in the third person. The second part of the exercise is to write a character description of someone you know. And then, in the third part of the exercise, you write a character description of a fictional character. Sharp recommends setting a timer for thirty minutes for each section of the exercise. I really like the progression, and hope it will help me get the feel of really describing my characters, but not in an awkward superficial way.
The next exercises I want to explore today are from The Compass of Character by David Corbett. In the first section, “The Logic of Longing,” he presents a series of questions to pose to your Protagonist and Antagonist to get to their: Lack, Yearning, Resistance (Weakness, Flaw), and Desire. I want to work through these for my Bid Five, and maybe a couple other characters that have popped up.
Today’s scene was inspired by an idea that came up at the end of yesterday’s writing session. A character (not one of my Big Five contradictory abstractions) from my protagonist’s past, has come back and connects a crime in the present to an unsolved murder. I need to know a lot about this character in a hurry. So I’m going to use my random number generator and character creation spreadsheet to see if I can generate some three-dimensionality in a hurry and dive into some flash-backs.
I may not get much more than the necessary 1700 words on my novel draft today, but I’ll have so much more to work with tomorrow, and the rest of the month.