Monday, January 21, 2008

More on creating a written photo

The other thing is, in a photograph, you get what you see, but you don't get what you don't see.

In other words, in yesterday's post, if that were a photograph (and I know I have photos of the kitchen circa 1998), you wouldn't get the sounds of the car outside. You wouldn't get the history of the table that Brian and I painted, and you wouldn't get the Rampalski's house across the street (they have long moved away). You wouldn't get Travis' dialogue and my supposed verbal abuse (according to Brian). You only get what you see. And most likely it wouldn't be a panoramic vision.

So right now, where you sit, create a written photograph. Look up from your computer, and straight ahead, what do you see? If all you see is a wall, turn your head a bit. Now what do you see? Or take your pen and paper and go into another room. Go on the front porch. Look out a window. If someone's sleeping, go into their room and take a written photo.

I try to take my own advice. So here's mine:


Our younger cat, Rosie, sits on the table beside the front window and sticks her head through the curtains, looking outside at the dark morning sky. It is 6:39 and the sky is periwinkle, with swaths of white. It looks like rain. Through another window a branches stir.

I pull back. The 25-gallon aquarium that sits in the fireplace--the house filled with smoke when during our last few fires so our aquarium took up permanent residence there--sounds like a tiny stream, reminds me of Vermont and the last place I lived there, with the creek behind it. In the winter the creek would freeze over and in the spring you would hear loud thuds and creaks as the ice flows broke apart and the water rushed downstream.

Travis likes noise. He doesn't like it to be too quiet. He misses the sound of the aquarium in his room and at night turns on a miniature electric volcano, for the sound, as he goes to sleep. He blames his desire for sound on me. He says it's because I vacuumed when he was a baby, getting him used to sound so he could sleep anywhere and not need quiet, as I usually do unless I'm exhausted.

Now Rosie turns this way and washes herself, sitting back like a cartoon cat, her legs splayed this way and that, her white-tipped paws pointed at me.


Creating a written photograph gets you accustomed to paying attention to the details and gets you writing visually and viscerally.

If you feel like it, post your written photo.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Okay. I will bite. This is one of the best writing I have ever tried.

I'm sitting in the warm car because I've arrived at the library too early. I thought it opened at noon, but it doesn't open until one on Sundays. There are thousands of tiny water droplets on my windshield. I look through them and see immature trees in front of me. They have lost their leaves. Pea green moss carpets their trunks. There are three other cars in the parking lot besides mine. A new silver SUV, a maroon toyota leftover from the 80's, and a white Volvo that gleams despite the day's gloom. These people are all likely early patrons like myself. I know this because library staff is awarded underground gated parking.

I could leave, but decide it's more efficient just to stay. So I pull out my pad of paper and start writing my photo. A white delivery truck with the word "Angelica" painted in blue rumbles up the street. The cars that pass by are less noisy. All I hear from them is the slosh of water beneath their turning tires. I hear the sound of water rushing into the rain gutters despite the fact that the rain has all but stopped.

I look across the street and notice that there is one house across Bell. It has a sharply slanted roof the color of rust. It's trim is freshly painted in white. The sides of the house are the color of a stirred Starbucks white mocha. For all its beauty, the house is out of place. It has wooden siding which is uncommon here in the land of stucco and concrete. It looks like someone moved it here from the midwest. Also, it has a full wooden porch.

The porch runs the entire length of the front of the house. I imagine how nice it would be to sip tea and read on that porch during the long, hot summers. I imagine my children playing on the porch next to me. But the house is boarded up and all the houses around it have already been razed and turned into extra parking for the community hospital and the library. My city isn't friendly to bicycles, walkers or NEV's. If it were, more of us would fit into the already existing spaces and the little house could stay.