Hi. I'm Jenna McGuiggan.
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« Downriver in the Writing Life | Main | Site availability (due to storm) »

Red leaf. Gap. Translation.

See that red leaf up above? It's so much more beautiful in person than in the photo.

I wanted to write a blog post, but nothing was coming to me.

I didn't have any words tonight, but I had a nice little collection of items on my desk hutch (which serves as part catch-all, part altar of favorite things). So I took a picture, first with my iPhone, but that didn't do it justice. Next I broke out the big girl camera (the DSLR), but even that didn't really capture the essence of my lovely little view. I could have fiddled with things -- changed the lighting (as much as one can change the lighting at 2:23am), or tried a different camera setting (though, truth be told, I don't know how to use most of my camera settings), or popped the photo into PicMonkey and tried to edit it into something more representative of the image and mood I wanted to create.

But the gap between what I saw and the image I captured, well, the experience of that gap gave me a few words.

I thought: Sometimes there's a gap.

A gap between what we see in front of us and the photograph we're capable of taking. A gap between the the way an experience feels inside of us, or the way an unborn poem sounds in our heart, and the way we translate it into words on paper. Part of this has to do with the gap between our taste in art and our ability to create art, especially in the beginning. (Ira Glass explains more about this gap in this video. This concept has been so important to me in staying sane with my own creative pursuits. Seriously, watch the video.)

But part of the gappage is about that word: translation. I think making art (with words or images or anything) is about translating something that exists somewhere else (either inside of us or beyond us). What a crazy hard thing to do!

Yes, crazy hard sometimes, but still the only thing that makes sense to those of us who are called to create.

I wasn't thinking about any of this as I looked around for something to write about and came up with a photograph instead. I like when thoughts and mini-essays slink out of the shadows like that. "The world is everywhere whispering essays," indeed.

And if it weren't now 2:39am, I might even expand on this everyday essay. But I'm just about out of words for the night, and sleep beckons.

What's your gap or inspiration these days?

Reader Comments (1)

love love love this beautiful post.
November 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterliz

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