Saturday, August 17, 2013

Standing Like Stone


One of my dearest friends died on this day, a decade ago, and in thinking of her and our relationship, this verse pops into my head:

"Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
KINDNESS in another's trouble,
COURAGE in your own."
(Adam Lindsay Gordon, Australian poet)


That verse from a much longer poem came to my attention via other memorable words, by one of my new favorite authors, Owen Egerton. Egerton quoted Gordon in his indelibly moving novel The Book of Harold: Illegitimate Son of God. Thus, memorable words give rise to other memorable words--and to images, ideas, and anything else born of artistic passion.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ey0QHCBOL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_.jpg


While reading those words aloud, I imagine a short film of the tide rolling in, leaving froth and bubbles on the shore--seen via a close up shot--and then rolling out to reveal two rocks protruding from the sand. Zooming in on the rocks, we see that each one bears an engraved word: one says KINDNESS, the other says COURAGE. Then a huge wave crashes over both, and the shot of the submerged rocks is drawn out, making the viewer wait for it, wait for it, wait for it--until the water again recedes, showing the engraved stones standing firmly where they were.

My mental movie shows how memorable words affect me. How do they affect you? How do they affect your own writing?

I aim to evoke mental movies in my readers. From the bottom of my computer screen, where I've minimized the document containing my current novel-in-progress, a voice now yells, "Rolling!" I need to get back on set. 'Bye-bye!