Wednesday, January 30, 2013
I’m always a bit behind in the technology curve and even more so in the social media curve. I’m a toe-dipper in the techno-pool of social and promotional possibilities always testing the water to make sure it’s not too cold and not too deep. I like to make sure it’s navigable with my marginal skills before I hop on in. That’s a very long-winded way of saying that I finally discovered Pinterest over the Christmas holidays, and I am SO addicted!
The thing is I never thought I would be. I mean my job is to create pictures with words, right? It all happens inside my head, right? That’s what having a great imagination is all about, right? And yet, I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to the images on Pinterest. At first, I found that fact a little bit disturbing, a little bit like watching too much reality TV. Looking at lovely, brightly-coloured, preeeetty pictures for hours is – you know – a guilty secret that I really wasn’t sure I wanted to admit in public.
Oh, it all started innocently enough. It was just one more way to promote my novels. I put the cover images of my novels up on individual boards and added other related images that were relevant to the stories or the characters, and it was cool. But then I started a ‘fun stuff’ board, and a ‘sexy stuff’ board, and a board for myths and inspiration, and a board for my favourite places and favourite books, and a board for walking, and a board for garden porn…! You get the picture … er the image.
It’s no secret that I’m pretty neurotic. I’m forever navel-gazing and trying to analyse just what it is that makes me do some of the strange things I do -- like hurrying to finish my work so I can reward myself by looking at pretty pictures. That being the case, take my analysis for what it’s worth – an effort for me to convince everyone, but mostly myself, that looking at pretty pictures is a good thing, and that I really am okay. Honest!
The powerful parts of story, the parts that I remember most vividly are the parts in which the image is so clear in my mind that if I saw it on Pinterest, if I saw it in a glossy magazine, or if it were shared on Facebook or on telly, I’d recognise it in a heartbeat because I’d see it with way more than just my eyes. An image is a representation of the external form of a person or thing in sculpture, painting, etc. An image is the reflection in the mirror, the imitation of a thing. And the imagination is the place where those wonderful word images are created.
At the end of the navel-gaze, my fascination with Pinterest and pretty pictures isn’t really all that hard to understand. I see stories in pictures. By that, I mean what I read or what I write, I see visually in my head. Though I don’t see the characters in my stories as looking like actors or famous people, I see images that reflect their personalities, their actions and reactions to the plot unfolding around them, to the world they live in, to their response and reaction to each other. Words are the building blocks for images in story, for pretty pictures and scary pictures and sad pictures and happy pictures. Words are the finesse for images. Words take images to the next level by twisting and sculpting and recreating, by breathing life into those images and bringing them screaming and kicking from the world of the imagination out onto the written page. There’s a reason why the book is always better than the film. There’s a reason why the best images only exist inside my head -- as well as the most moving images and the most terrifying images.
Two years ago in August, my husband and I walked the Wainwright Coast to Coast path across England. We made the trip with two cameras and two BlackBerrys. Some days we took hundreds of images. Other days we took only a few because it was pouring rain and we just wanted to get somewhere warm and dry. I blogged that fourteen-day journey across Cumbria and North Yorkshire, from St. Bee’s Head to Robin Hood’s Bay, so I wanted as many images as we could get for my posts. Even now, two years later, I can look at those images, and I’m there! I’m there in the Lake District, on the top of Kidsty Pike in the wind and the mist, I’m there walking through the old mining ruins on the high level route between Keld and Reeth, I’m there on the North York Moors looking out over a sea of blooming heather.
Those photos along with thousands of images from hundreds of walks in the Lake District were revisited, studied and reimagined in my mind as I wrote the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy. Now, so many of those images have stories beyond the stories, so many of those images take me places I could never go in the real world, but only in the world of my characters and their stories. Every image has a thousand stories, stories that I haven’t written yet, stories that I haven’t even imagined yet, stories that I won’t live long enough to write. So it’s not really surprising that my imagination is so easily captured by pretty pictures.
The power of image in a story is the power to take me there and make me want to stay for the whole thing, and not want to leave when it’s over. The power of image in a story is the power to take me there, then to make me wish I could leave, the power that won’t allow me to leave, even after the story’s over. That’s a lot of power.
I know a lot of writers use an image board, of some sort, to help them clarify in their heads elements of their story and their characters. I’ve never done that. The Pinterest boards of my work are all after the fact. But then perhaps I do something similar in my mind that I’d not really thought about until my Pinterest addiction reared its pretty head. Perhaps every story I write is a board of images, images brought more and more sharply into focus, as I write and rewrite, until they do what I need them to do, until they make the reader look hard and feel deeply. Well, that’s what I’d like to think, anyway. Maybe it’s more of a goal really, to make what I write clear and sharply focused and impossible for my readers to look away from without being moved in some way without being changed in some way.
Find me on Pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/kdgraceauthor/
Posted by K D Grace at 4:00 AM