A while ago I was really stuck in my writing and sent my painter friend Laura in Arizona (photo is of her latest show) a whiney e-mail about how I would never finish this book I was writing and oh-woe-is-me etc. She wrote back about an icon she was working on, a metaphor for what I was going through, and how one of the tenets of icon writing (actually painting but called writing) is that you never turn back. “You can fix a bit,” she wrote, “but you just keep moving, and that is exactly the lesson I need to learn on a lot of different levels. Do your best and keep moving…”
Laura was like my own personal muse that morning. When I thanked her she wrote back that icon-writing was full of metaphor. “In some icons the layers of paint underlying all but the skin are called the ‘chaos layers’ – and it really does look chaotic – darks and lights, blotchy. It adds life to the work.”
How perfect is that? The chaos layer.
Today, almost two years later, and working on the same book, I wrote a very flat, shall we say boring scene. Two people having dinner, chatting. I wanted to get them into bed but didn’t know how to do it. I went downstairs at lunch time and said to my husband, “I have to get Cass and Spyder into bed. Any suggestions?” He was doing a crossword puzzle and eating a peanut butter sandwich. “How about a bottle of wine?” he said. But Spyder doesn’t drink wine and isn’t the type of guy to get a girl looped to get her into bed.
Finally I went back up to my office and wrote the scene Not a great scene but there’s chaos now, messiness, questions to be answered, odd monologs. Very blotchy, but that’s okay. I just did my best and kept going. And that’s all any writer can do.