Month: April 2012

Negative Space

I love to think.  I often wonder how I could get a job just thinking all day.  Or reading.  Reading, thinking and some writing.  Maybe a little bit of talking if I want to.  Right now I am in the process of streamlining my brain.  I liken it to a family business that started 35 years ago.  The time has come to get rid of old Uncle Pete who sits in his office all day playing poker and eating cheese nips.  Some things are just not working anymore, and even though I’m fairly attached to them, they need to go find something else to do.  I’ve hired some new people and they are keen to start creating some new things. Ironically, with the influx of new information, fresh perspectives and vibrant paint colours has been a startling revelation.  There’s been a lot of brainstorming sessions about finding my purpose.  Even though the staff are really putting forth some fabulous suggestions, my best messages are coming from the negative space.  The stuff that’s not happening. In my zeal to explore all my hankerings in life, I have been taking some writing classes.

Always one to go full force, I signed up for my latest endeavour-a 10 week novel boot camp.  Ten weeks=first draft of novel.  I reassured myself that this was just what I needed.  I have this  habit of having great snippets of ideas, but I write two pages and then I’m drained.  As many times as I try to come back to the idea, it’s done.  Over.  It’s had it’s day in the sun.  I’ve got nothing.  I had convinced myself that it was a discipline issue.  A time issue.  An “unyielding obsession with doing everything else but writing” issue.  The boot camp would be my salvation.  I had a  teacher and fellow writers to hold myself accountable to every week with my progress.  My target novel length is 50,000 words.  I’ve got the idea.  I’ve cut out pictures to inspire me.  I’ve got 3000 words.  I’m done.  We’re in week 3. Here’s my revelation.  With my eye on the prize (the first draft) and all the festering and agonizing, something became glaringly clear to me over the past two weeks.  I am NOT a novel writer (sorry Karen).  This came to me as I realized that every time I sat down to “write” I immediately would go to my blog.  My muse would comfort me.  Taking a long, slow drag off her cigarette she would look at me with a look of  sarcastic pity.  “It’s okay Amanda.  Just write something here for a few minutes and then go back to that God-forsaken novel.  I know that you have this insane desire to be the best at everything, so don’t sit here and do what you really want.  Go forth to the basement and stare at your thesaurus for the next hour “writing” your novel”.  Then she would kick back her feet allowing the nicotine to fill her lungs.  I would soldier to the basement wondering if  maybe I should take up smoking since my muse certainly seemed to have all the answers.

I fought the “a-ha” moment for a few days but then something occurred to me-something one of my fellow writers talked about in our last novel support group…er….meeting.  It was about negative space.  Creatively speaking, negative space refers to the area around or between the subject of an image (shout out to Wikipedia).  Eureka!  There it is!  It’s not about the novel at all!  It’s about all the energy around the novel and what I’m doing to avoid writing the novel!  I’m being pulled by what I take true delight in-my blog!  I am therefore further refining my title from “Amanda McEvoy-Writer In Residence” to “Amanda McEvoy-Essayist, Blogger and All Around Nice Person”.

It reminds me of those psychedelic pictures from the 90’s where you stare really hard at it until some form begins to take shape.  I was distressing over this novel to such an extent that I was missing everything around it.  Bottom line-sometimes it’s not about the work of art at all.  It’s the background that makes it what it is-a thing of beauty. Because I am a creature who believes in commitment, the novel will be followed through with.  I need to be able to say that I finished something.  Moreso, the people in my writing group appear to be creatively exciting and I am thoroughly enjoying listening to their conversations every week about their work.  A little positive energy is never a bad thing.  Just don’t be looking for me yet on the NY Times Bestsellers List.

And In The News Today…

Our local newspaper used to be accessible online free of charge.  Several months ago, they changed the format so that you can still read it online but you will now pay a fee.  I am not proud to admit that I have never been a big newspaper junkie because I do believe in journalism (reading and writing are always holding hands in my mind).  I also feel strongly about being somewhat schooled in happenings of the world both locally and globally.

When the content was free online, I would frequently peruse the material and read the articles of interest.  Since the content is no longer available without the fee (and, obviously, I am cheap) I have been forced to go elsewhere for my information gathering sessions.   Now, whether or not it’s because I am a person who, at her very core, resists change.  Or whether it’s because I was blind to it while I was reading my old online website, the material I have started finding (on reputable sites) makes me shrink into my seat in horror and re-direct my thoughts to my grade 12 journalism class.

Here are some examples of what I mean taken from today’s headlines on the CNN homepage:

-in the “Living and Travel” section, one headline reads “Was That Guy Hot For My Baby Bump?”

-on “HLNtv” section, one headline reads “Can An App Prevent Sexual Violence?”

-in the “World” section (perhaps a section one would assume would be a bit heavier on the “news” content), one headline reads “Hotel To Serve Titanic’s Last Supper”

Correct me if I am wrong, but I am of the thought that these types of articles could be more suited for certain types of magazine subscribers versus the homepage of CNN?  I understand the need to cater to the masses, but are there no limits?  I love Betty White as much as the next guy, however the fact that she has joined Twitter is not news-worthy.  But then again….maybe it is….

In ruminating about this blog post, I was doing some reading about the word “news” as it is defined.  While that was sort of interesting, this tidbit made my heart sink.  According to Wikipedia, “newsworthiness” is defined as a subject having sufficient relevance to the public or a special audience to warrant press attention or coverage.  Really?  Sufficient relevance (emphasis on the word “sufficient”)?  And this says what about society at large?  That’s right.  We’ve stopped thinking.