the odd shapes of life

IMG_1675“Obituaries, I believe, are really less about death than the odd shapes life takes, the patterns that death allows us to see.”

The Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo

But it’s not death that allows us to see the patterns. Death just gives us the last few strokes, allows us to write the last few sentences.

It’s the writing that allows us to see–the process of writing and the finished product.

We don’t need to know the shape or pattern before we start. Henri Matisse wrote, “…I am driven by an idea that I really only grasp as it grows with the picture.” The same is true of writing.

Writing is the brush with which writers make shapes. One of the things that makes writing so exciting is the discoveries we make as we write.

For those afraid to start, Matisse wrote, “…each new stroke diminishes the importance of the preceding ones.”

So let’s write and let the shapes emerge…

9 thoughts on “the odd shapes of life

  1. Lovely insight, Cynthia. Too often I stop myself from putting down the words because the thought is incomplete. There’s a wonderful quote from Flannery O’Connor that speaks to this: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”


  2. I feel your pain! I shaded for years on my first novel.

    Maybe try a short and quick break–maybe some fun flash fiction–write a story in six sentences. Submit to Six Sentences (on the new links page above).


  3. Really love the quotes in both your post & the comments here. Great thoughts. Thank you for sharing.


  4. wow – what interesting blogs you all have! Great quotes!

    Until yesterday, I have not written in about two weeks (spending all my ‘writing time’ as a saleswoman selling my writing, or trying to:) and when I sat down I was at a loss. I decided to write what I was feeling and experiencing, and suddenly without knowing how I got there, I was right back in my novel, in my character.

    “So let’s write and let the shapes emerge”. That’s exactly what happened, and it’s amazing! Sometimes, I wonder where it all comes from.


  5. It is amazing to think where it all comes from. Is it behind a door, inside a container, floating around?

    That feeling of nothing to write or not knowing how to start or having no idea what will happen next is often so strong that it’s hard to believe there’s anything there.

    But maybe it’s actually the opposite of the way it feels. Maybe there’s so much there that it’s all jammed, and when we relieve the pressure by taking a few words out–any words–the others tumble after.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Jennifer.


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