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03 August 2011


Playing with Blocks

by Scott Loveall

Blocks1Like most of our childhoods, mine contained lots of blocks. Animal blocks, colored cubes, ABCs, and later Rubix cubes and Writer's Block. I may not feel like writing some days, but I don't have blocks anymore.

Are you a visual person first or an auditory person first? Do you create a daydream and hear your reactions and speculations of what you are seeing? Or do you hear a story unfold and visualize the scenes. Ask yourself: Do I hear by seeing or see by hearing?

Or perhaps you 'feel' before you see or hear. Does it take an inner imagining of a cold wind to trigger a memory of the wintry scene you want to describe? Or do you feel the touch of satin before you hear the 'lover' respond through your medium of choice?

When I really understood this I began to create 'triggers' for my writing. You know, the common statement of driving in a semi-trance as the miles sift by. AND you know that as that happened, there was an internal dialogue of voices and scenes, memories, and rehearsals of things you wanted to say in the past or want to say to someone now. I smile as I think of all the countless miles where I have missed the conversation (asleep at the wheel), my sub-conscious solving problems, worrying something to death, or dreading the other end of my drive...that imagined demon at my destination.

And I smile as I write this because of the wheels and levers and handles I have created to control the flow. Someone told me once to find a photo of a memory. A snapshot or slide that might be in your drawer at this very moment. Imagine you can take a pin, or perhaps use something fun like a laser pointer, and put a tiny hole in the middle of that picture. Imagine now that behind that picture is a scene, another picture just in the future that you want to write or paint.

I imagined a wheel like you might find on the hatch of ship compartment. As I turn the wheel clockwise the pinhole opens further and further revealing the picture behind. Turn it the other way and the hole can close. So helpful if the connection behind it is uncomfortable for some reason. As writers we sometimes have to look into the scary places. We tortured painters as well.

If you work better with sound imagine a shutter release on a cord that ratchets the iris open in sha-shurts of size. Each time you press it you can hear the iris open a little further, then again, then further still. A floor pedal can release the iris to a satisfying phfloomph like a door on a Mercedes. Can you feel the satisfying thud in the camera as the shutter releases, or the whir as a lens telescopes out. What lies behind that larger and larger hole can be whatever we want it to be, or need it to be. It can be the past or a future creation you haven't birthed yet.

So where do I use this in writing? I have doors I've created that act as a sluice to let in water, or cattle to a pen - akin to a faucet. Attached to that door is a long cord that comes over to my internal self and pulls until the door rises and the images, sounds, or emotional settings come flowing/roaring/bracing in as words, ideas, or things to describe. This is really useful when I'm working on something longer like a novel or book like Knitting for Marmuts.

Are you more technical? Use controls for a screen in your mind, or a volume and timbre control for the speakers of your dialogue, or to adjust the lilt and mood of you characters. Put sliders on the side or a box in front of you. Control the volume, the color, the flow, the sounds of the fireplace in your scene. They can be like the controls in software you use to tweak and improve your photographs. Or as a mixing board in a recording studio. Queue your characters, control the right and left channel as each of two people speaking. This can be even more powerful with the colors on your mental canvas. What would this part of the painting look like if I turned up the saturation or the boosted the green or the sharpness. Your amazing mind will take it from there.

Blocks2Play with your senses. Listen to the ebb and flow of your tide. All these little manipulative tricks will work to get you lubricated. Let your story/painting/poem/song catch YOU for once. No sooner will you be out there you will forget about the pulleys, and buttons, or the smell of woodsmoke, or 'the softness of "a tulip was her cheek" and the miles you drove between exits. The words will fly by. The brush will dance to a song of its own. So use your senses and put down the blocks.

The Sense of Tides

Permeating,
a solute
washing in and through, and out.
A tidal presence,
like breath and blood
through the pores of my bones.

A taste as I sleep,
rolling undulation
when my tongue dreams
of saltines,
of broth,
of your wine.

Insane to reach your clef,
the vibrato, the purr
of your body's brilliant song.
The sirens whisper and sing
as we climb, peak,
and fall back from the cliffs to the sea.

As I hold you to my ears
I hear the ocean,
your lungs calming winds,
the rhythmic waves of your heart
flowing over the thirst in my soul.

© 2011, Scott N. Loveall

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