Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Reflection: Stasia Kehoe Ward

Hi, folks, like I mentioned last week. This week's reflection comes from Stasia Ward Kehoe. Her new book AUDITION comes out from Viking later on this year. Her two blogs: Writer on the Side and A Year of Auditions are well worth your time.

In Stasia's Words: Many of us who write also express our creativity in other ways. We are painters, potters, singers, dancers, graphic designers, actors, clowns... So the question is: Do we compartmentalize these artistic outlets? Paint OR clown? Dance OR write?

At first, it seems obviously and easy to say that we set aside different times and places for different artistic forms. But perhaps this is a limiting conclusion. I believe you can sing a landscape or choreograph a phrase. You can understand the world through your own unique artistic lens. For example, when I develop story characters, I need to feel a visceral, physical sense of them--how their feet touch the floor when they walk, what makes their skin crawl, whether their spine is straight or slouched. When I am doing what I feel is my best writing--and whether the character I'm creating is a showgirl or a professor--I bring to each page a descriptive sensibility that comes from my dancer self. Similarly, if you are a visual artist, your connection to color, light, and line should not be ignored just because you are sitting at a computer keyboard.

Perhaps you've written a manuscript that is technically strong, seems like it should be great, yet some ineffable thing is missing. Or you've got a character you love but with whom you sometimes feel a vague disconnect. Try unlocking your novelist brain to let those other creative parts of yourself get in on the story. It may take a bit of fidgeting with the key. You may have to sing through your opening pages or close your eyes try to picture the absolute, exact colors that make up your main character's eyes. You may think this whole idea is crazy (and sorry about that). But, for me, this is the way to take my writing to its own special place. Lots of novelists discuss the elusive notion of "finding your voice." Writing with my whole creative self turns out to be what this phrase means to me.

Oh this is so true. I hope you take these thoughts to heart and let them really boost your work. See you next week for more reflections.

I'm always doodling to keep the creative spirit hopping. Here is this week's doodle: "Ballerina."

A quote to tuck in your pocket.

Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise. Julia Cameron


Faith Pray said...

I love this idea of knowing your story until it is felt - warm stones in a pocket, the whisper of pale feathers, an ache that is your main character's ache, and so real and beating that it grows out of you onto the page.

MollyMom103 said...

Exactly. For me I must day dream. I have to cry and shout out laughing. I have dig out my flute and play some melody that follows them around, and of course, I have to doodle. I also walk around and take photos. And the hardest thing for me, I have to feel my life.

Janet Lee Carey said...

Love Stasia's post -- bringing art to the page in whatever way we're wired. For me it's music that helps round out the story -- all the sounds I'm hearing as I write.
Love her dancer's perspective.

And Congrats to Stasia for the new book!!


Stasia said...

LOVE your ballerina, Molly. And thanks for letting me join you in seizing the day. Hugs from Washington! Stasia

The Valley of Sucks... said...

From a newbie blogger...I appreciate the fact I have some very nice footsteps to try to follow. I started a blog this past weekend, taking your advice from the January Brazos Writers' Newsletter. It felt great to write again. I have been editing my first novel for months and months, and finally have it ready for the big leap of faith. Like your blog advice, I was searching for the details that make the story strong and breath life into the characters, and getting a better and better sense that my characters were three dimensional people. It is always great to have someone who knows what they are doing out there to help blaze the way!!!

MollyMom103 said...

Hey, Stasia, you rock! I'm so happy to shout out your book over and over. I'm a fan.

Hey, Valley, I'm glad you are finding your way. We are all in the boat together.