Having spent a fair amount of time in airports, I have seen plenty of jets, but airborne behemoths still impress me, so recent trips to Washington, DC and British Columbia added new flavours to my fascination.
When a writer is on her game, when she has found a creative groove, she writes at two levels.
At the conscious level, she weaves the stories of her various characters and environments into a literary carpet of amazing delicacy. She understands the work won’t be flawless when she’s done, but she knows and is comfortable in the belief that she can surgically pull the extraneous threads later.
This is a beautiful thing. But an even more dazzling spectacle is happening at the unconscious level.
This is the level at which the writer’s subconscious creates delicate near-invisible tendrils of connections between characters and themselves, their surroundings and other characters. It is at this level that amazing nuance and metaphor is added to a story. Without the harsh distractions of planning and plotting (both very important, mind you), the subconscious is free to perform magic that we may not recognize or appreciate until much later in the creative process.
One way you witness this is when you realize that conscious concerns you had before sitting down to write have been miraculously addressed, as though story-writing elves snuck onto our computers overnight.
Interestingly, this is one reason why it’s important to have other people read your stuff. They will see things you cannot. In some cases, it is because of what they bring to the table—their personal biases and experiences. But more importantly, it is because they aren’t encumbered by your blinders.
Other readers see your work more clearly because they are untainted with what comes before and after, whether on the page or in your head.
I witnessed and shared this personally in two reading group sessions where my fellow writers created incredible metaphors that deeply informed their lead characters. Yet, when pressed directly as to whether they were conscious of those decisions, both were the most shocked people in the room.
Both demurred that the incidences were quite accidental, but whereas I might agree that they were unintentional, I don’t believe they were in any way accidental.
We make choices for a reason (or several) even when we don’t know what those reasons are. The truth is our truth no matter how ignorant we may remain to what that truth is. We cannot help but splay that truth across our pages.
To some extent, I think creative harmony lay in not caring what those reasons are. For if we try to dissect them, I fear we run the risk of killing them. It is enough, I think, to let our subconscious guide us while we work consciously.
Let the magic within you happen. Your work will be the better for it.
Washington, DC, is an odd town for a variety of reason…it is steeped in history and yet is constantly in a state of renewal as its four quadrants cycle from decay to rebirth to affluence to decadence, and the people within the town, depending on money and power, move from quadrant to quadrant accordingly.
Being the political and international heart of the US, however, means that it is also a showcase–in the museum display sense–of what the US has to offer architecturally.
I’ve tried to capture some of that here.
The Five Man Electrical Band missed the point when they wrote: “Signs, Signs, Everywhere there’s signs. Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind.”
So much more than identifications or directive missives, signs can be amazing mystical things.
They can be unintentionally funny or provocative. They can hold hidden messages. They can bring wisdom.
Can’t you read the signs?
Okay…with this last batch, I promise that I have officially run out of photos of birds (hehehe) from my trip to Washington, DC…but they’re so beautiful.
As you may have noticed, I like to take the mundane in life and move it in a whole new direction, exploring avenues that are not obvious at first blush.
Such was the case with a series of scenarios that I photographed recently in Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington, DC.
Have you ever taken your camera out for a stroll and accidentally come upon a party? Well, it happened to me while wandering The Mall in Washington, DC, approaching the Washington Monument.
What started as a couple of kites fluttering through the sky on a sunny, windy day quickly degenerated into a morass of people all trying to get kites into the air, lines crossing and wrapping around tree limbs. Kids practically being lifted off the ground by kites much too large.
It was as though a rainbow had exploded and rained down on the people below. Chaotic, but definitely spirit-lifting.
So, it seems to be the season of the sparrow this year as they were out in profusion across Washington, DC, although the starlings did their best to make an appearance or two.
The hardest part about getting some of these photos was keeping vacationing children on the Washington Mall from scaring potential subjects away.