Mosaics and Misting

This morning at the gym, the guy lifting weights nearby had his music up loud enough that some leaked from his ear buds. He was listening to the Superman theme music. Somehow this both made me laugh and endeared me to him. Go Superman guy! Build those tasty muscles!

I totally want to build a character around that now.

Today is a very special Happy Birthday to my mom. Many of you already passed along good wishes last week during my surprise visit.

My mom’s new project is making mosaics.She took a class to learn how and now she’s creating this table top. It’s really perfect for her, because she shines at combining shapes and color. Pressed into service – and because my avowed task for the visit was to do whatever she wanted to do – I helped her put it together. It’s fun and different, like a puzzle where you don’t know what the picture will be when you’re done.

Oh, wait, that’s how I write.

It’s a good analogy, really. You choose the general shape of your story, the outline, the themes, the color scheme. You might have several really wonderful pieces that you know have to be in there, that you build around. But the final picture only emerges when you’ve finished.

This was actually the second time my mom put this together. The first time she had only the vertical border around the outside edge, which looked all wrong to her, once she finished. So, she took it apart and added the second, horizontal border. She kind of minded having to do that, but she’s retired and has this lovely leisurely life, so she has the time.

One of my friends wants to “reform” and learn to be a plotter. She’s said that she wants to save the time it takes by “pantsing” her books and plot first. It put me in mind of another comment I saw by a person who says that she’s a pantser and that’s why her blogs are so unfocused.

I think this last is like seeing the mosaic needs one more border and adding it in. The unfocused isn’t from not planning every detail ahead of time, it’s being unwilling to take the time to fix it. As for wanting to save that time in the first place, well, I understand. I totally do.

But I think it’s the wrong reason.

The press of time is artificial, I think. It’s emotionally driven. We want to write more books, faster, to make more money, to quite our day jobs and be rich RIGHT NOW.

It’s a kind of hysteria, really.

Another friend of mine, Bria Quinlan, wrote a terrific post on this, called I Am Not Broken. She gets down to the point that writing is about doing the work. Let me add, it’s about the journey, the creation, the spinning of the story. You might hasten this process with extensive pre-plotting, but you still have to write the story. You might plan out exactly how the mosaic should look when you’re done, but you still have to put the pieces all together.

And be willing to take them apart again, if it doesn’t look right.

I can understand wanting to get the product out there, but art, any art, is about engaging ourselves in the creative process. My mom isn’t making mosaics to sell. She’s making it for the sheer joy of it.

She’ll have something beautiful when she’s done, too.