To the left is a painting by Maurice Prendergast, American post-impressionist artist. As you can see, no details are detected in the subjects. They are faceless; the tree limbs blotchy. Only the theme is obvious - people gathering by a lake.
In April of this year I viewed my first Prendergast in the flesh, or oil as it were. It was part of a class field trip for Art History to the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester. My sister-in-law tagged along and when we stopped at the Prendergast collection I said to her, "See this painting? It's exactly how I see things with my left eye."
I'll never forget that day because up until then, it was hard for me to describe the vision in my left eye and the lack thereof. Eye doctors have no idea what it's like - they usually have clear vision. (Believe me, I wouldn't want a doctor working on my eye if he had vision like that in my left eye - uncorrectable vision.) This has always been a frustration for me because with the left eye in such a state it affects the right, which has 20/20 vision. So when I look at something the subjects are a bit distorted on the left.
I'm not trying to gain sympathy for my eye plight. Been there - got all the "Oh you poor things" I can take. But today I revisited the Prendergasts and realized that my writing is exactly like the paintings, at least lately. Now that's a frustration. The theme is obvious, but the details are missing. Not the five senses thing. It's this: I can feel the story; I can see it unfold in my mind. It's just that when I sit down to write it my pen stutters. Everything is haphazard, scampering across the paper in a nonsensical mambo.
Could it be that my mind is taking up with my left eye? Perhaps it's showing support for the handicap by crippling my creative edge. Or could it be how my office is arranged? I've whined to my friend Marcia and she suggested writing in a different part of the house. She always gives the best advice, and I follow 99% of what she suggests. So, I did. I sat in the living-room, pen and pad in hand, and coughed up a scene which at the time looked brilliant. It smacked Nobel! Pulitzer! Or at least something that might have been written by a published author.
I took hand written work and plopped down at the computer. That's when my work looked like something the governor of Alaska might have written. Two words: It sucked. I kept at it, but throughout, my heart beat a sad cadence. It all looked like shit. All the energy I felt in the living-room somehow leaked out as I walked to my computer.
Is it the room? Do I need to re-arrange? Why is it that the story is clear in my head, but when I spill words to the paper, they skitter around and make no sense?
Is my inner critic on crack?
The BIG question: Is it just me, or has anyone else felt this frustration? Chime in. I have a story to finish.