Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sculpting the Words

I am currently reading The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. The main character has been horribly burned and disfigured in a car accident. During his time in the hospital a mysterious sculptress named Marianne Engel appears and intimates that they have a past history together. That's the launching point for the book, but that's not what I want to write about. I want to write about writing and how that process is different and yet the same for all of us.

On one visit to the hospital Marianne is describing to the protagonist her process when she is ready to begin a sculpture of a gargoyle.

"When I'm about to work, I sleep on the stone," Marianne Engel began, with a deep breath, "for twelve hours at least, but usually more. It's preparation. When I lie on the stone, I can feel it. I can feel all of it, everything inside. It's... warm. My body sinks into the contours and then I feel weightless, like I'm floating. I sort of —lose the ability to move. But it's wonderful; it's the opposite of numbness. It's more like being so aware, so hyperaware, that I can't move because it's so overwhelming. I absorb the dreams of the stone, and the gargoyles inside tell me what I need to do to free them. They reveal their faces and show me what I must take away to make them whole."

This passage reminds me of what it's like for me before I begin writing something new or am stuck on a certain part of an ongoing project. I've heard other writers say and it is also true for me, that ninety percent of writing is in your head. That is the "sleeping on the stone" part. My non-writer friends have said to me that I seem distracted or they ask me if I'm upset with them when I'm in that writing in my head mode. My writer friends know exactly what's going on. I think for most writers the stone is the blank page and we have to sense, feel or intuit the words that will go on the page. And sometimes we add or take away the wrong word so we just keep chipping away at the stone/page and eventually the page begins to take shape. And then the process starts all over again for the next page.

I like the idea of "sleeping on the stone" and will probably conjure it up each time I'm preparing to write.

Rebekah for Poplar Grove Muse


  1. Thanks for sharing this interesting process, Rebekah! I'll have to request that book!

  2. As I have already said, I love this idea of "sleeping on the stone." MANY powerful analogues.... MKP

  3. Beautiful!