Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Statue Inside the Stone - Joan Lennon


I've heard authors speaking about their
books as surprising, unlikely, almost miraculous things - their coming-into-being a mysterious process that leaves their creators like first-time parents - gob-smacked, anxious, proud, worried. Possibly appalled. (At the event, of course, not the product.)

For me, it's not so mystical. Even though my books are full of time travel, shape shifting, kelpies and talking ferrets, I try to tell people that I write documentaries, because that's the way it feels. The story is already there, waiting to be told. It's already real. And my job is to let other people know about it. Hand me a chisel and watch the chips fly, sort of thing. (Though the writer has the advantage over the sculptor - we can glue bits back on again if we chop too much.)

Okay, it's not an perfect analogy, but you catch my drift. I hope. It would be interesting to know if other fiction writers are as basically convinced, or perhaps taken-in, by their own creations as I am.

And while on the subject of delusions - do I think my books are as perfect as the statue in the picture? I wish!

Joan.




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4 comments:

Anne Rooney said...

Absolutely, Joan - I have always said that the story is there waiting to be revealed. There's still a mystery about it - where is 'there'? and how did it get there? Is the story just in the ether, since we don't have any stone?

But there is the sense that I just stumbled on this one, and someone else could have stumbled on it instead. If Michelangelo had picked a different lump of stone and maybe Sansovino got that particular one...would they get the same statue out?

Lucy Coats said...

That's the wonderful mystery of it--how everyday words coalesce into a myriad wonderful forms for us. I love the sculptor image, Joan--always did fancy being Michaelangelo ever since I read 'The Agony and the Ecstasy' when I was about 14. Now I can imagine myself chipping away at a word here and a sentence there to uncover the plot beneath the paper.

Mary Hoffman said...

I've often used the Michelangelo idea when trying to explain my writing to kids.

It is the way it feels though currently I fel as if my editor has taken a hammer to my book's delcate toes!

Nick Green said...

The picture makes me think of those Dr Who monsters...
DON'T BLINK!

Sorry if I lowered the tone there.

I have thought of my books as sculptures, actually, but of something like clay rather than stone. My first stage of writing is heaping up enough clay to work with, i.e. making piles and piles of notes, much of it random nonsense, just to see if any usable material is churned up. Then when it is all there in a big heap, I can start hacking away at it, and hopefully a shape will emerge.

That image suggests that I don't think the story already exists... interesting.