Writing Epiphanies in the Brushstrokes of Picasso

This last weekend I had the rare pleasure of attending an art exhibition of the Modern Masters “Degas to Dali” that called my city a temporary home on loan from The National Galleries of Scotland. With 79 works by over 60 Modern Masters from Renoir to Monet, Degas to Dali, Picasso to Warhol and Van Gogh to Matisse it was a feast for the creative senses.

You are probably wondering what an art exhibition of The Modern Masters has to do with writing and Wrestling the Muse. Everything. Writing is just another form of art. Where the great Masters of the art world used exquisite brushstrokes to create pictures and stir the senses, writers use ink blotches and words to create worlds that a reader can step into. Writing, Painting, Sculpture, Music are all forms of Art. If you are a writer, you are a creator of worlds and an artist of words.

What struck me during my tour of the exhibition was how alike a painter wrestling with his creation is to a writer wrestling with his. We both have a very specific vision of the completed work but at times the journey to get to that point of writing The End or framing that completed canvas is fraught with struggle. There was a room where the quotes of these great Modern Masters had been displayed on a wall. These are some of the quotes that stood out to me. These same quotes could directly be used for us writers.

  • I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else. – Pablo Picasso
  • I have a horror of people who speak about the beautiful. What is the beautiful? One must speak of problems in painting  a story! – Pablo Picasso
  • If there were only one truth, you couldn’t paint write a hundred canvases stories on the same theme. – Pablo Picasso
  • Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working. – Pablo Picasso
  • It took me four years to paint write like Raphael (insert a Master of Literature here), but a lifetime to paint write like a child. – Pablo Picasso
  • Action is the foundational key to all success. – Pablo Picasso
  • An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought. – Pablo Picasso
  • Are we to paint write what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it? – Pablo Picasso
  • Art is the elimination of the unnecessary. – Pablo Picasso
  • Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. – Pablo Picaso
  • Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. – Pablo Picasso
  • Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.– Pablo Picasso
  • Painting Writing is a blind man’s profession. He paints writes not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.- Pablo Picasso
  • The hidden harmony is better than the obvious. – Pablo Picasso
  • The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it. The more technique there is,the less there is. – Pablo Picasso

Just like the great artists, us writers have to get messy with our creations. We have to be willing to be ink-splattered. We have to be bold and unafraid. We have to let the story take control over the technique. We have to disappear so our characters can talk to the reader. We need to remember to tell stories like a child does. We need to let loose our passions into the story. We need to remember that up close we the artists may see only brushstrokes and mess but from a distance our audience the reader needs to see the full picture. We need to step back and look at our work with the eye of a reader to truly see if we are consistent in the path our story has taken. Remember to not only read but to look at beautiful art, listen to beautiful music, touch a beautiful sculpture. Seek out inspiration and it will show itself to you.


Why Blog?

Blogging Readiness

Image by cambodia4kidsorg via Flickr

I am often asked two questions:

  • Why do I blog?
  • How and where do I find the inspiration for my blog posts?

A year ago I would have answered that I blog because I want to build a network and get my name out there on the world wide web. It was a way to build a readership and to connect with potential readers. It seemed to be the thing to do as a new writer. It was what more experienced writers advised me to do.

Six months ago I would have answered that it was to connect with other writers and other bloggers. Share and learn in experiences.

Now my answer is still both of the above but I also blog for my own benefit now. Yes I blog to connect with readers. Yes I blog to connect with other writers and bloggers. But more than ever I find that I am blogging for myself.  As for the inspiration part of the question: I blog about the topics closest to my own writing, being either quandaries or difficulties I am facing and moments of epiphanies.

When I blog, it is like first having a conversation with myself trying to work things out and then I invite in others to the conversation and hear their points of view. I also blog to create inspiration for myself. We all have those moments and those days when for whatever reason, we battle to drag ourselves to the computer to finish that next scene or untangle a plot element. Sometimes we just need a break from the current WIP. That is when I blog. Blogging still means I am writing. It is a way of “getting back on that horse” inspirationally and creatively speaking. The most important part of committing to writing is doing the actual writing: inspiration can be a fickle mistress and can come and go as the wind direction changes. It is in these times of inspirational lows that I like to blog. It keeps the thoughts churning and strangely enough blogging usually unlocks a hidden kernel of inspiration which leads me hand in hand back to my WIP.

Of course it could be argued that there are other forms of writing like journalling. I still journal. I also write Morning Pages, inspired by Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way. But because blogging is in a public arena, one si held to a higher standard of writing. So blogging can be a teacher for your other forms of writing.

Blogging is also a reward system in of itself. When you write a post that connects in some way with at least one person and they are kind enough to comment, there is an automatic uplifting encouragement for the Blogger. One favour: If you do read a blog post that you connect with, comment on it. Let the blogger in question know that their post made you think or feel or just made you smile. It is also a great way to build online friendships and connections with like-minded individuals.

Blogging can also be a challenge tool. You can challenge your own beliefs, practices or thoughts by posting about different topics. Don’t limit yourself to just one rule of topic. Expand your horizons. Do research by reading other blogs. You may be surprised by what you learn from other bloggers and what you may be able to share and thus teach someone else. I have found the most useful resources through reading someone else’s blog. Blogging can be great research.

Words are powerful tools. They can be wielded for both good and bad. When we publicise our thoughts and share our experiences we cannot but help to touch another person either through informing them, inspiring them or finding points of empathy. It is up to us how we choose to wield this powerful tool. These are the questions we should be asking ourselves before we voice our thoughts whether it be in blogging or whether be in our own works…

  • Will we turn it into a positive or a negative?
  • Will we use our words to inform or hide?
  • Will we use our words to entertain or insulate?
  • Will we use our words to inspire or alienate?
  • Will we use our words to create or destroy?

So why do you blog? If you don’t, why do you read/follow blogs?

Blog responsibly knowing that what you write will be read and remarked on by other writers and readers. Be honest but remember to stand by what you blog. Even if it feels like nobody is reading your posts, people are. It is in the eye of the public. Your posts will be judged. But learn from each post, each comment whether the commentator agrees or disagrees. Reply to your comments and do the courteous thing by linking back to others’ posts. In this way you become  part of building a community.

Now: I blog for myself as well as connecting with readers and writers. I blog to understand my own thought processes when they have entangled me in a web of chaos. I blog to create inspiration for myself when inspiration seems veiled in the fogs of moods and emotions. I blog to inform and entertain. I blog to learn and share about the craft of writing. I blog to share my epiphanies and my Eureka moments. There is one rule I follow through on every time and that is to be transparent in honesty and truth. For me, a writer without truth is a fraud and a con-artist. For me words are art. Art is about finding the truth in life. Art is about creating simplicity from the complexity that is Life. For me, to be  a writer is to be a seeker of truth.

What is writing for you? Why do you write at all?

The better question is: Why not?

Kim