A writer friend of mine, Janet Corcoran, just posted on her blog Janet’s Journal about a talk she recently attended, given by three women who were artists in residence for the past year in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia . Janet’s post got me thinking about the connections between different art forms, including writing. It’s a topic that fascinates me, so I thought I’d run with it.
My DH writes with sound instead of words, but it’s uncanny how similar our processes are. First, there’s inspiration. For me that can come from an old photograph, a story someone tells me, a historical event, or it can simply come at me out of the blue, like Trey McShannon’s character did. For my DH, it’s much the same. Musical phrases from pieces he already knows, random sounds he stumbles on when ‘noodling ‘ on his guitar (his version of free writing), events or people provide the starting point, the initial spark. He banks melody lines in his memory the way I bank phrases, lines of poetry or story ideas. He’ll write a snatch of music down on paper the way I scrawl ideas in a note book – if I have one (You’ve all heard my paper towel story by now.)
Next, the idea has to be fleshed out. For me, that means I start writing the first draft of my story. For my DH, it means finding a chord progression that expresses his original idea. Both of us have to think about length and mood and pacing. There are conventions in music – chord families and scales – just as there are conventions for the written word. Music has phrases, punctuation, its own grammar if you will. It also has its free-verse poets who ignore the conventions.
Finally there’s revision and polishing. For me that means going back and adding layers of action, emotion and introspection (Yeah, yeah, I know, too much introspection. I’m working on it.) For DH, it means a different kind of layering: adding harmony lines and embellishments, adjusting pace and rhythm. And yes, it can cause as much angst for him as it does for me. In the end, it’s about taking the reader or listener to a place you’ve created for them. The only difference is the medium.
With painting, it seems to me that the process is pared down but essentially the same. It starts with inspiration. The palette chosen is like a writer’s voice, and the intensity of the colors sets the mood. Any given subject can be interpreted in as many different ways as there are artists.
What do you think? Have you experimented with different forms of artistic expression? What’s your take on the idea that ‘art is art’?
I'm a teacher, an amateur musician and, for over thirty years, a writer. I fell in love with words at a very early age, and the affair has been life-long.
Glimpses of the past spark my imagination. There's an archaeologist buried in me somewhere. I'm currently working on a series following the McShannon family as they put down roots and find love in the old world and the new, against the background of the American Civil War. Along with this series, I'm writing a story set at the time of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. I'm really enjoying delving into the history in my own backyard.
I write for children as well as adults. When I'm not writing I garden, play guitar and spend time with my DH, our cat Emily, and our dogs Chance and Echo, the most spoiled Duck Tolling Retrievers on the planet. I live in Nova Scotia, in my opinion the most beautiful place in the world.