Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Call to Exhibit

I keep thinking about the idea of exhibiting art work. In Japan and now here in Ohio, I have friends that are artists. They create art and want people to interact with the work. As a writer, I want people to read what I write and to find something to think about, a kind of interaction.

At a gallery opening I contemplated, albeit briefly, the value of a space to spend time with a work of art. The ambiance of an art gallery differs from other kinds of places whether it is your home, office, or a restaurant. It is not just the impact of the art, but place as well as the art impacts the experience of the art. It is unique, for me, to have time to be with a work of art.

Twice in one week I have blundered socially upon meeting someone unknown and new to me yet known to me through their writing. "I know you!" sounded ridiculous the second I said the words, but it didn't stop me a few days later when I repeated the phrase with another writer. Words on a page or blinking in the light of a cell phone may find you there in the dark, but the writer is probably unaware of your presence.

At my friend's opening, she was prepared-- dressed fabulously, hair in place, bright pink fishnet stockings on which caught your eye, generally looking every inch the artist that she is, and the art was on the walls, floors, and video screens. Writers are more often unprepared for their readers, never sure when they will show up. Different mediums generate different experiences for the artist and the viewer. Being able to take a book to the beach, to bed, or wherever you like is a perk of reading. Using a widget in the late hours of the night means that I can write or read in the dark while everyone else is asleep.

Some writers are widely read and their words connect people to them. The words bring light into the deep places inside ourselves. Stories hum to all of us amidst the background noise whether we hear them or not. Another's penetrating thoughts may reveal bits of our own story. Through another's words, we know something new and we feel connected to them.

The art exhibit was a different kind of interaction with reality, it felt more playful. It hit me in the gallery space that creativity and play are linked and made visible to the audience via the exhibition.

As we morph from reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books to J. K. Rowlings's Harry Potter series for bedtime stories at my house, I wonder where Rowlings found her story, how it came to her. Did she snatch it from the air? I can see that Laura had stories stocked through life experiences, but I also see how Rowlings played with stories, history, and myth to create Harry's fantastical world. Maybe that too is what I am sensing-- there is an art to creating through play and there is an art to creating through life.

Another friend mentioned National Novel Writing Month recently. I had never contemplated it, but as the month of November draws near, I am thinking to do it.  I am afraid of fiction. Afraid that I will come up dry, afraid that my story will have no meaning. November sits there waiting for me, novel writing month. Is it time? I don't know, but I am beginning to think that it is time to experiment, play, and see what happens.

I wish I could give writing up, but some how it's got me. I keep coming back to it, to see what it has to say through me, to see what I can snatch from the air. I like the thought that stories are there waiting for us to catch them. I'm curious to see what I can catch, to see what it is like to play with a story. I'm sure it will be very messy.

You've got to play before you exhibit