(54 years ago)

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Mar
26

three examples

As a writer, there are images you attempt to create in the reader’s head using your current arsenal of words. Images that set the scene or elevate a particular narrative and you wake in the morning bristling with the nouns and verbs and even the occasional adjectives necessary to create these worlds.

And then there are images that cannot be constructed without the help of the reader. Some images being so far out there that the writer can only hope to stumble upon a reader with an extraordinary imagination. Anything less and the image is squandered and the entire story collapses in upon itself.

Or worse, they are read and then easily forgotten.

Before you hit me with the ‘it’s a poor craftsman that blames his tools’ argument, here are three examples taken from stories that require almost Herculean imaginative faculty.

 

  1. He’s been walked in on before. He was no stranger to the embarrassment that typically followed, in fact given that he often times had the music playing at levels that made the approach of other people virtually impossible to detect, he was a veteran of such encounters. Air guitar? Sure. Air drumming? Of course. But he’d never had to explain playing the air bagpipes.
  2. When he was able to finally do it, his stomach started to do flips. The passenger seated next to him had no idea what was going on. To that person he was just a guy staring out his airplane window. How could he know that the man seated next to him was looking out his window and imagining that the Earth was flat? How it would look. And how could that same person even begin to comprehend the mental gymnastics that were taking place as that same man seated next to him was looking out his window and imagining how the view would be if the Earth was shaped like a donut?
  3. The house certainly looked like it could be haunted. It was older and in a state of slight disrepair, but it would be just as easy to believe it wasn’t haunted. The young couple that purchased it at a significant discount was certainly hoping it was the latter. But it was the former. They found out the first time they said a number out loud in the living room. It was followed by an otherworldly voice saying “One dollar bid, now 2, now 2, will ya give me 2? 2 dollar bid, now 3, now 3, will ya give me 3?” Yes. Their house was haunted by the ghost of an auctioneer.

 

You can see how easy it would be for the casual reader to go barreling right past these images without taking the time to stop and actually try to get the intended (and unintended)  image in their mind’s eye.

As a writer you almost hesitate to include such imagery for fear it will go unappreciated. But writer’s write, and you wrestle it out of the ether and then try your best to capture it with words. Both capture and set it free. The whole time it’s bucking and writhing and doing everything within its power to appear banal and ordinary and unworthy of a second glance, but you know it’s special.

You know deep down it’s worth the effort.

And then you hope against hope that there is a reader that feels the same.

Because in the end you are tormented by these images, how odd or funny or perfect they are in your head, and you’re endlessly frustrated by your own inability to share them with the hideously sane people that populate your life. You’re convinced that if you’re somehow able to transmit these twisted images that they’ll understand you just a little bit better and, maybe, consider the possibility that you’re not so much of a lost cause as you appear.

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