Saturday, September 6, 2008

Writing Like Rodin

It seems to me that writing starts out being more like painting and ends up being like sculpture. Painting is mainly concerned with putting media on canvas, adding and adding, building up the surface until the desired results are achieved.

Sculpture, in contrast, begins with something already complete, like a block of fine marble. The marble is slowly, delicately chipped away until much later a work of art emerges.

Writing, at the beginning, flows like an abstract painting; complimentary ideas blend together and stand in stark contrast to earlier passages. Swirling word pictures lie thickly on the page. These layered, unconnected thoughts and loopy sentence structures resemble a Jackson Pollock painting.

Writing enters its sculptural phase when the writer takes his editing chisel and chips away at the dense verbosity. This paring down and discarding bits of unneeded words goes on until an underlying form appears. Like a sculptor, the writer strives to get at the nub of the piece, that point where most everything has been taken away and there is nothing more to say. And like a sculptor, the constant companion of writers is the question, “Have I gone too far?”

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