Sunday, May 22, 2005

One inch frame

Sketch: short assignment through a one inch frame

Alright, I'll admit it. I'm scared to death of beginning this project: my thesis.

At the moment I'm reading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and came across the chapter "Shorter Assignments." In it she suggests that rather than becoming desperate, crazy, or asthmatic one needs only to start with what can be contained in a one inch frame. So I started with drawing yet another ear. This is my jumping off point. The luck of Buddha is contained in nothing more than the lobe of his ear. But I'm not writing about Buddha. I'm not writing about, let's say, Buddhism. I'm not even writing about the expression on the face belonging to this ear. I need only start with the ear. A sentence, a paragraph, a page. I'm not sitting down to write my entire thesis at once. Only one word at a time.

E.L. Doctorow once said that "writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." Anne Lammot adds that "You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you."

For right now I don't even need to know who the ear belongs to. If necessary I can grab a journal from the stack I carried back home with me. Grab one sentence. One scene or thought or moment... broken down into one inch. Start with an ear... the rest will follow.

Focusing in on the minute details, after all, is what often makes for some of the best story telling.

Therefore, the ear. Just the ear.


Rhein said...

your site is inspirational

Anonymous said...

Inspirational is definitely the word. I like this idea of "just the ear"