It is said that in the beginning, God created the heavens with nothing but the word of his mouth. Light, water, sky, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, animals–he created them all with nothing more than a phrase. Atoms to atoms; molecules to molecules; cells to cells. The foundations of the world were set in motion with almighty statements. Imperatives.
Sometimes I wonder about God’s inflection, whether his voice thundered across the void, or whether it was stiller, smaller. Like a whisper. Was it firm and unbending, or was it full of wonder and excitement? Were his pre-man words compassionate, even then knowing that the coming prize of all creation would require salvation from a good and loving God? Was he giddy about the story that was about to unfold?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, not beyond a reasonable doubt, anyway. But what I know is that in the beginning God spoke.
I’ve been thinking about the creative power of words, lately. My morning commute lasts all of about fifteen minutes on the busiest of days, and each day I’ve been taking to dictation. I speak into my mobile device allowing some app to transliterate my speech to text. It is an imperfect act of creation, the app sometimes substituting “transliterate,” for “translate” (see above), but it’s an act of creation nonetheless.
People ask why I came to writing. I’ve been prone to it since I was a kid, I say. I once wrote a short story about the resurrection of the dead, that great biblical event, using frogs as the object of the rapture. The good folks of the fictional town of Almer ran around shrieking at the sight of frog bones hopping heavenward to meet Jesus in the air. Only ten years old, I postulated that we got all this pre-trib/post-trib stuff wrong, figuring that it was only the amphibians who were worthy of being spared the wrath of the Antichrist. Best I can remember, it was my first short story. All this is neither here nor there. It’s just an anecdote I thought you might enjoy. Sometimes the act of creation is that simple.
But always, the screen begins blank. A white canvas. It’s the writer’s job to use voice to muck it all up, to ink it into something useful, feelable, breathable, tasteable, maybe even something over which the reader laughs and cries. That act of writing is a metaphor. Without voice, without words, there would be nothing. No atoms; no molecules; no cells.
Only empty space.
I’ve recently finished a longish piece of fiction. I’m not sure whether to call it a “novel” or “novella” just yet. There’s still a final set of revisions, and perhaps an editor needs to put their hands on it. But through this process of creation, I’ve found characters that I’ve come to love, characters that seem real to me.
Weird? Maybe. Metaphor? Absolutely.
Over the coming months, I’m inviting you behind the scenes. We’ll see whether my piece has the stuff to make it past mere manuscript phase. Will my characters leave my briefcase? Or will they live more introverted lives in the quieter places? I’m hoping for the former, but only time will tell. And I’ll keep you updated along the way.
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