They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I say, if that’s the case, maybe I’m in the wrong business!
As a writer, I don’t spend a ton of time thinking about pictures and drawings. Sure, I’ve scribbled my fair share of doodles on cocktail napkins and pieces of scrap paper, and I’ve even been known to spend an hour or two working on a drawing or acrylic painting.
Back when I was in college (way back, it feels like now), I considered double-majoring in studio art. I loved ceramics – especially hand-building with coils and slabs – but that plan was derailed when I realized I really didn’t enjoy the technical precision required by print-making and drawing (prerequisites for an art major). Clay was so much more forgiving, and the process felt much more organic to me.
Kind of like how writing feels to me today.
Writers often talk about what a lonely pursuit writing is. I can understand why someone might argue this – after all, we spend so much time holed up inside our own heads, imagining characters, places, and scenes, that it can be easy to forget that there’s an enormous, dynamic world out there full of real people doing real things – but personally, I don’t find writing lonely at all. I find that writing allows me to live in two worlds at once. There’s the real world – the one where I have a wife, an apartment in Chicago, a loving family, great friends, and a day job – but then, running parallel to it, there’s this whole other world – a world that exists only in my imagination (until I commit it to paper). Within this other world, I get to live vicariously through my characters, experiencing things I never will in real life, suffering and triumphing with them, following along as they visit places that may not actually even exist. I’ll be the first to confess that I have a whole bunch of imaginary friends (some of them not particularly nice)…and I’m damn proud of it!
Lately, I’ve been exploring another kind of world. Not the real world, nor the imaginary world I inhabit while writing (and reading), but a world just as rich and textured – just as inspiring – as both of these others: the world of pictures. For the past month or so, I’ve been seeking out (and sharing on my Facebook and Twitter pages) images that speak to me, that tell a story, that open a window to another time and place. And while I’ve always appreciated art in its many forms – including paintings and drawings – I must admit that I’ve been unprepared for just how powerful these images have proven, how, in an instant, they elicit a whole backstory in my mind. How they truly are worth a thousand (or more) words.
Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve uncovered thus far, along with the blurbs they inspired me to write:
What do all of these images have in common? They all set my neurons ablaze. They prompt me to ask questions, to imagine what might be going on behind closed doors, to think about what might be possible tomorrow or the day after that. And as a writer, this kind of creative “juicing” is invaluable. So far I haven’t written any full stories about the pictures I’ve found, but the seeds are there, planted just beneath the surface, waiting to germinate.
Keep your eyes on my FB page and Twitter feed to see more images like this, as well as links to news stories and videos that capture my inner science geek. Hopefully you’ll find them as interesting as I do.