Mainly thanks to discoveries about perspective, paintings began to look a little more lifelike ...
The Fra Angelico altarpiece is dazzling when you see it in the flesh - it's not 'lifelike' because there are still issues with scale, foreshortening, but you can see a gradual progression towards what we would recognise as realistic representation. Maybe some of you caught David Hockney's documentary recently - he suggested that around 1430 there was a sudden technical leap in the realism of paintings. Suddenly painting improved - and he put it down to the use of optical tools.
I've been thinking a lot about perspective this week - maybe because the three projects I'm working on are set in the past (one Spanish Civil War, one World War II, one 1980's). Do you think it's possible to see things clearly only in retrospect? I wonder whether in writing there have been similar 'leaps' in ability. Individually, the books we read, the classes we attend help take our writing up to the next level. Our stories and characters go from flat, 2-D, primitive to something full bodied, illusionistic. My gut instinct is that most of us improve in this way. Rather than a steady improvement day by day, with creative acts I think there are sudden bursts, a forward momentum that's impossible to sustain continuously.
What's been tough lately is a sense of standing still. At a birthday party yesterday I bumped into a screenwriter who had been kind enough to ask to read The Book at Christmas. 'What?' she said incredulously. 'Still nothing?' She loved it. It's great to hear how your work has affected someone, but what can you do if a publisher doesn't love it enough? The screenwriter said 'Hang in there. It's not 'if' but 'when' you'll get published'. Which was kind. It made me think of today's gorgeous video clip. If not now then when? Frustrating isn't the word, and for a while I lost all perspective about it. But as we've said before 'never give up, never give in' - and maybe giving writing that 'extra 10%' people talk about is the key. Maybe it's time to take one of those leaps forward - go back to (find) the future. Trisha Ashley recommended a book about writing the breakout novel - so that's my bedtime reading this week. The only way to make any progress and move on is to accept who you are, where you are - even the things you can do nothing about. As Lao Tzu said: 'Be really whole and all things will come to you'.
Hope everyone on the 6 week challenge has had a good one - let's catch up in the comments. The draw for the 'What Kate Did Next' workbook giveaway is still open - winner to be announced on Tuesday x
TODAY'S PROMPT: If you are anything like me you spend far too much time in your head. At the moment I have three separate sets of characters yabbering away up there and it's a tad crowded. I'm finally ready to write a first draft this week and this entails going to ground for a while, giving it 100%. Whenever you are deeply engaged with a new piece of work, I've found (to my cost), it pays to take care of yourself. Why not have a think about things that work for you - more sleep, less coffee, fresh air? The single thing that helps ground you is noticing what is around you and seeing it clearly - it literally helps keep things in perspective. This week why don't you try and tune in to your observations a little more attentively - notice things, try keeping a running list each day of the things you've seen that amaze you. For example - this weekend I've seen: a golden dragonfly emerging from her exuvia; luscious fat spears of asparagus wrapped in brown paper at the farmer's market; ferrets racing; a llama batting her eyelashes as I fed her; seven toddlers in party frocks bouncing on a trampoline, giggling in the sun; heaven scented scarlet rose petals tumbling to the table. This week, to keep things in perspective why not just try noticing what's around you?