“Writing is the painting of the voice.”

I wish I could draw. I mean, really draw. I used to dabble in sketching and such, and I really do enjoy it, but any project I do ends up looking like something a six or eight year old would do.

In junior high, I met a couple of students in my class who were amazing artists, at least for being 13 years old. This one boy created a beautiful 3D dragon out of clay. I wish I had that kind of ability. This other girl in my class could draw such vivid human figures with charcoal; she drew a girl on the beach that left me breathless. I asked her how long it took; she said about 20 minutes. That blew me away.

I wish I could draw. Or paint. But alas, I can’t, not very well. So, I write the images I wish I could draw.

“Writing is the painting of the voice,” – Voltaire

I saw this quote the other day and immediately identified with the deep meaning behind it that perhaps only writers can understand.

If you think about it, painting is difficult. If you watch a painter, they make it look so easy, but in reality, to make a good painting, it takes practice, tenacity. Painters who want to actually make a living will need to practice anatomically correct drawings, blending and shading. They’ll need to use the right materials, and identify which ones are of high quality. And so much more, of which I obviously don’t know anything about, because I’m not a painter. Painting is far from frivolously brushing images on a canvas.

Every time I visit the Crocker Art Museum I marvel at some of the amazing paintings. Once, I saw a massive painting of the face of an old man. Sounds so odd, right? This painter captured a heartbreaking sorrow, which was magnified by the sheer size of the piece. I discovered that the painter had spent seven years painting this humongous masterpiece, as part of his grieving process over the loss of his father.

Painting is hard. So is writing. If you want to write well, writing is hard. It’s hard to start, it’s hard to keep going, and sometimes it takes a very long time to finish the idea you’ve started.  Christopher Nolan describes how long he mulled over some of the scripts for his films. It took him ten years to pen down Inception completely. He also mentions that it took five or more years to finalize The Prestige. 

For me, it actually took ten years for this particular story to come to fruition. But that’s a blog post for later 🙂

Writing is certainly not frivolously scribbling words out on a page. In a well written book, every word counts. Every sentence, every paragraph, should mean something. Every word is carefully chosen and purposeful. That takes extensive practice, editing, rewriting, editing, rewriting…

Not that either one is better than the other, but in lieu of not being able to draw, I’m so very glad that I have the ability to write.

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