Thursday, February 24, 2005

Writing Is Like Trying To Talk Without Using Your Hands

I have spent three days trying to write a short essay on medieval liturgy and church architecture, which probably shouldn't have been such an ordeal because I've studied this sort of thing most of my life.

Maybe the problem was that it really needed to be something short. Maybe it was that it's hard for me to talk about the subject without sounding a bit "flakey". Maybe I'm just so passionate about the subject of "sacred space" that it's hard for me to put it into words.

After three pages of notes on light, mass, sound and a short physics rant, I gave up and did laundry, washed dishes and put my mind on cruise control. Things weren't getting any easier.

So, this morning, I started over from scratch.

I said a quick prayer: "Please, help me not sound like a flake". I took out my stash of cathedral photos, popped a medieval polyphony cd on the player and started to write. I didn't stop to think about what I was writing. I just wrote.

Sometimes, it's hard to put enough distance between yourself and your subject to let the writing flow. Or the art. Or the science...math...problem solving...physics...theology...what have you. It's easy to overthink the problem. And very difficult to stay out of your own way.

I'm not saying that my essay is likely to win any prizes But I'm satisfied that I managed to articulate my major points without wandering too far afield. And now I've got that little prayer written on the inside of my notebook cover:

"Please, help me not sound like a flake."


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