Thursday, October 21, 2010

Word Ponderings

I find I am still pondering several of the Word of the Day suggestions and they have become more than just food for thought as I consider possibilities for writing and how I relate to them. Words, like people, can have many facets and with "masks" and "labyrinthine" especially it's hard to decide on which facet I want to focus. Of course, I should probably just sit down and write instead of falling into the trap of over thinking things, but sometimes I find the mountains of possibilities which my pondering produces eventually grow into the many layers that fill my pieces and make the story unique. The only drawback being that it is takes more time to process them them into a piece that conveys the huge picture of everything I want to portray; it is this considering which I have been doing lately.

First there was the word "masks." People can wear masks both in the concrete and figurative sense; we don't always show everything about ourselves to everyone. The characters in my stories wear masks and the story along with the more subtle subtext work together to provide the overall picture. In this case one might say the concrete masks the more abstract subtext which necessary for a more accurate understanding of what's happening and why.

Then there is "labyrinthine." This word speaks to something which is labyrinth or maze like. It is key to the YA novel which I have been working on for years now. This complex piece of work is much like a labyrinth under construction. There are many pieces and subplots (including full length shorts) woven into one overall story which makes it a little like a puzzle. However, I suspect there is an actual labyrinth (and a mask) in there somewhere too - I just won't fully see or understand it and it's significance to the story until I get there in my writing.

And so I consider and weigh each of the aspects of these two words and ideas continue to grow, which is the exciting part of writing. Learning about the characters and their stories, I purposely work with the words, story and materials until the heart of the story becomes clear and the synergy this produces as it all comes together explodes into light and I'm awe inspired with the result.

Note: both of the above photos were taken at Banff Centre for the Arts, Fall 2009.


  1. How good and relieving to see my word suggestions actually support your writing! And how they occupy your thoughts in a quite similar way than mine. Especially "labyrinthine" which I wanted to use for my writing already years ago - not just as a word but as a motif - and ever since carried around with me in the back of my mind, half-consciously working it further out.

    After a few months of choosing words, I´ve realized I have a tendency to choosing traditional literary motifs for our "words of the day", right because they always open up literal as well as figurativ ways to use them.
    I wonder if there is a technical term for "archetypical situations" and "archetypical things" like there are characters who represent "archetypes"? Perhaps the term "motif" comes nearest to what I´m looking for...

    Concerning labyrinths, I always find it most exciting that you don´t know from the start if they are symmetrical ones that guide you to their centre, like the original labyrinth of Crete from the Greek legend. Or if they will turn out to be mazes, made to lead you astray, to stop you dead. The task, the quest, the required ability may be a completely different one in both cases...
    A story can get already suspenseful through the mere fact that the main character doesn´t know if the challenge he is about to experience will turn out to be labyrinthine or rather mazelike...

    In this respect you made me wonder if there is perhaps some kind of secret pattern in the "labyrinths" of your novel, and if the characters lay out labyrinths or mazes for each other...?

  2. What you say makes sense, I didn't think about the words that way, but it works. Perhaps that is why they stick with me so much. I love how they make me think and ponder and really look at all different angles and labyrinths have always fascinated me. Thank you for explaining the different labyrinths and the difference between the traditional and the maze. Are mazes a type of labyrinth too? Or are mazes and labyrinths different?

    I remember reading the story about the Minotaur (I assume this is the legend you refer to) and how he lived or rather was imprisoned in a labyrinth. However, it sounded to me like it was more maze like as the character talked about getting lost in it, but perhaps that's not accurate. I don't remember the story well even though I read it many times in my teens as I always found mythology - especially greek mythology fascinating.

    As for my novel I too wonder. I think there is a kind of secret pattern - a key to the story if you wish. But I'm not sure if the characters lay them out for each other - yet. I haven't written that part or the lead up so it is really hard to know until I live it. I live through my characters you see... at least it seems that way as I have to get into their head and point of view and try and understand what they are doing and why and how it all works.