Saturday, April 7, 2018

Writing as a Lover

Sister Wendy Barrett’s video tours of fine art galleries gathered an enthusiastic following twenty years ago. When a recent convalescence allowed me to retrace her steps via YouTube, she reminded me of some vital principles of writing as well as the visual arts. For example, she noted that a masterpiece focuses our attention on things that the artist loves intensely. Then she observed, “Art only works when it comes from love.”

Indeed it does. If we pursue our art as an idle hobby or a way to earn extra cash, the result is flat and uninspiring.  But if we write to see the world more keenly and caress it with the fondness of a guileless lover, the result is true romance. Readers want to share that with us.

It's easy to lose sight of the romance of our work, but we can cultivate this attitude with deliberate care over time. Mull over a scene slowly and carefully, like a landscape painter choosing palette colors. Study the facial features of a character with anticipation, like a mother peering at a babe in a blanket. See not only who the character is, but what sort of person the character has been and might become.

Readers sense when we are doing this. They recognize when we are writing as lovers, even though we must describe some distasteful aspects of our beloved.

Love makes the difference between art and artifice. So how do you want to write today?

Joe Allison has been a member of the Indiana chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. He lives in Anderson, IN. His non-fiction books include Setting Goals That Count and Swords and Whetstones.

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