Thursday, September 29, 2011

My husband and I just returned from traveling back to Nauvoo, Illinois. As a Mormon, Nauvoo is a part of my family history. I have relatives who were sealed in the Nauvoo temple, and ancestors who were born at Winter Quarters after the Saints were driven from their homes in Nauvoo. The highlight of the trip for me was being able to attend a session in the newly rebuilt temple. One of the temple workers told me how the church obtained the original building plans. When the missionaries in California knocked on a door, a man told them he wasn't interested in their message, but that the church might be interested in something that he had. He was a descendant of the architect and had a copy of the plans. The new temple was then constructed as close to the original plans as possible. I also took a tour of the Joseph Smith mansion now owned by the reorganized church and visited Carthage Jail where Joseph Smith was killed.

On our way back we stopped in Hannibal, Missouri, home of Mark Twain, for lunch. It always amazes me how towns capitalize on one person. They had a square set up with Becky Thatcher's home and the fence Tom Sawyer conned his friends into painting. Excuse me? Did the tourists understand that these places didn't ever exist except in Samuel Clement's mind? His boyhood home might have been authentic, but I wasn't curious enough to pay for a ticket.

I love the adventure of traveling and seeing new places, but I'm always glad to come home and sleep in my own bed.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Art of Writing

Writing is an art form just as unique and individual as painting.  It takes skill, imagination and the talent to create a little bit of magic. Whether it's the language of  a lyrical poem that lifts the soul and in some way makes the world less frightening, the fast action of a spy thriller that pushes back the boredom of everyday life, or a tender love story that touches the heart, if the magic is there, it transforms the reader in some way.

Just like painting, it requires a certain amount of skill. Even with the most vivid imagination, if your words fail to paint the pictures in your head, there's no magic. Still, like any other art form, writing isn't as simple as constructing the perfect sentence or following a set of instructions. You can't  insert tab A in to slot B and come out with a best seller. Call it magic or talent, some part of what you write has to connect and resonate with the reader, expanding their understanding of themselves or the world around them. In its own way its more complicated than rocket science.

Experts like publishers and agents can't explain it, any more than an art expert can tell you how to create a masterpiece.  All they can do is give you examples of what works for them. It's as individual as taste.

Weaving magic is hard work, often painful, but ultimately satisfying.