The Museum

Well, I figure it’s late enough in January that none of you are going to assume I put down “post on my blog” as one of my new year’s resolutions. What I did make as a new year’s resolution was to try and improve my writing, and right now I’d like to share a metaphor and tell you about a writing exercise I’m working on. Metaphors are great in writing, but the other day I came up with a metaphor… for writing.

The Museum.

Imagine you’re the curator of a museum, filled with beautiful and brilliant pieces of art. Every day you wander the halls, enraptured in the fantastic works of artists throughout the ages. You not only see the beauty in the workmanship, but every piece of art seems to tell you a story, one that touches you deep in your heart. One afternoon a group of students comes in for a tour. They’re from a school for the blind. As you begin your tour, you realize that the only vision of these works of art that the children will get must come from you and only you. The words you choose will determine if the children will be able to appreciate the art or not.

What are you going to do? You could tell them what a painting looks like, but is that really what the painting is about? You have spent a lifetime admiring this work. You know how it makes you feel, what stories it brings to your mind. How will you ever be able to translate that to your students?

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In this metaphor of mine, the curator is the writer, the blind students are the readers. They are coming to you to be enlightened, edified, educated. It’s your responsibility to find all the words that are going to paint the picture, not in someone’s physical eyes, but in their mental eye.

So there’s my metaphor. And not only is it a metaphor, but it could even be a very interesting exercise. I’ve got two ideas for this exercise, either,

  1. Write as if you are the museum curator, describing any painting you wish, from the Mona Lisa to Starry, Starry Night. Tell the story that you see in the picture, don’t just describe the way it looks.
  2. Write as if a scene from your novel has been turned into a painting by a famous artist. Who is the artist? How has he set the scene? What is happening, and how do the people look? Has the artist succeeded in capturing the emotions of the scene?

Feel free to post your exercises in the comments if you’d like. I’m excited to see what you all come up with! Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

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