Passionate. Disciplined. Wildly imaginative.
Growing up isolated on the moors of England, Emily Brontë found the inspiration for her masterpiece Wuthering Heights in the cold and windy hills of her own back yard. I remain spellbound.
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.
Emily Brontë 1836
Modern readers often skip over passages of description in search of the action scenes in fiction. This, like channel-surfing, may be a sign of the shorter attention span of our times.
That’s why it’s critical to incorporate a sense of place into the scenes as you tell your story. Short story writer and novelist, Eudora Welty, is a master of creating settings that are as powerful as her characters. In her essay “Place in Fiction,” she reminds us:
Harris Beach, Brookings, Oregon, by Jacalyn McNamara 2014
“Location is the ground conductor of all the currents of emotion and belief and moral conviction that charge out from the story in its course. These charges need the warm hard earth underfoot, the light and lift of air, the stir and play of mood, the softening bath of atmosphere that give the likeness-to-life . . . ”
Whether you’re writing mysteries, science fiction, or literary fiction, this “likeness-to-life” makes your story real for the reader.
“This is what I believe: That I am I,
That my soul is a dark forest,
That my known self will never be more than a clearing in the forest,
That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back,
That I must have the courage to let them come and go,
That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will always try to honor the gods in me and the gods in other men and women,
There is my creed.
Redwood Forest by Jacalyn McNamara 2014
A creed is a set of beliefs that guide your actions. Many adopt the creeds of a formal religious group or an organization to which they belong. But freethinkers must generate creeds of their own since they are originators in the world.
What set of beliefs guides you as artist and writer? Take time to think on this and share your creed with me or on your own blog.
We have just finished reading Much Ado About Nothing in my Introduction to Shakespeare class.
It’s been a few years since I’d read it, and while I hadn’t forgotten how much fun it is, I am surprised by how contemporary it seems today. With themes of gender wars, slander, bullying, deception, shame and honor, the plays characters could make headlines in the digital world of social media today: “Girl Commits Suicide Following Gossip and Bullying.”
And once again, I joined poor Benedick as he falls for the bold and biting Beatrice who makes his life a misery from Act 1:
“It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man:
but for the stuffing,—well, we are all mortal . . .
Is it possible disdain should die while she hath
such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? . . . “
All women would be wise to approach marriage with her full wit and defiance;
all women would be wise to value themselves the way she does.