The Crooked Halo column
by Joann H. Buchanan
I believe as writers, we are conduits of human emotions. We are meant to create worlds that already exist somewhere in the energetic cosmos that surrounds us. We are time travelers, mind readers and in a sense gods and goddesses of our own worlds. We are constantly surrounded by inspiration and burdened with one unalienable truth…we must create.
Creation doesn’t come cheap nor does it come easy. It’s time consuming and for the most part difficult to explain to those outside the reality we exist in. Sometimes when people ask us questions we honestly don’t have the answers. It would be nice to say here is the formula for an unbelievable story. We would love to simplify it, believe me we would. It’s just not always something we can explain because we live in a world of what if and endless possibilities.
So in answer to the one question I get asked more than any other; “I want to write, how do I begin?” My answer is…
Just breathe, take a deep breathe in and close your eyes. Find calm inside and see the world you want to create. Put one word down and then another. Soon you will have completed your first sentence. The next thing you know you have a paragraph. Don’t worry about the mistakes you make along this part of the journey…remember this is the fun part. It’s the part where you as the author get to immerse yourself into another kind of reality. All you have to do is breathe.
There is another kind of breathing that takes place when you write. It’s called breathing life. Oh no, what’s that and is it necessary?
Yes. It’s the most necessary building block of the world you have decided to create.
Breathing life is painting a picture.
For this particular exercise we are going to start with a room. Breathing life in your world means answering questions.
Is it a big or small room? What color are the walls? Is there art on the walls? In other words create the room.
She sat on the edge of the bed in the old hotel. The room smelled like a mixture of old mildew and lemon scent air freshener. The desperate feel of the room reflected in the old brown shag carpet that lined the floor. A single picture hung on the brown panelled walls. It was a strange piece of art with a black background and a red infinity symbol on it.
The ancient looking air unit on the wall rattled when it was on, shaking the adjacent wall where the night table rested. An old greenish yellow rotary phone sat on the table next to an oil lamp. A black match box with another red infinity symbol mimicked the artwork.
And it was there in that desperate hotel room where she sought silence against the screaming voices in her head. It was a silence that would never come because the room itself never mattered. Her eyes focused on the strange painting with the infinity symbol…and all at once the voices whispered yes. Yes to the symbol. Yes to infinity…simply yes.
That’s just a sample of breathing. Like water, breathing is life itself. Without it we are dead. Without it in our writing we are flat…which to writers is the same thing as dead.
Breathing requires practice, an understanding of the feel you want to convey. It requires you to dive deep into your own mind and share it with the world. It is the essence of everything we are as creative people. It takes from us without giving back and it always makes us bleed…one way or another.
For me as a writer there is a constant battle going on inside vying for my attention. I don’t always remember what I write, which makes editing such a cool surprise. That is for another post though.
My task for you dear painter of words is to sit down and create your own room. Send it in. I’ll post them another time. This is for practice and if it isn’t fun you’re in the wrong business. Happy breathing happy life.
Joann H. Buchanan