A Writer’s Quote Series: Episode Seven
I like the message in this quote by the Russian heavyweight, Vladimir Nabokov:
“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.”
I find this quote encouraging because it implies stories have a life of their own and are fully formed and independent from us mere mortal writer types. Of course, we need to plant the story seeds if we want anything to flourish, but sometimes those narratives grow while we’re sleeping.
The Agony and the Ecstasy
Nabokov wasn’t the first creative to sense this about his work. The Italian artist, Michaelangelo, often spoke of his sculptures already being in the rock; all he had to do was set them free.
I have personally experienced this in my own writing, of knowing a story so well it almost wrote itself. Those are glory days for a writer!
But I have also struggled. Sometimes a story is there, I can taste it and it makes my heart race. Trouble is, I don’t know how to set it free.
This is why we writers must continue to work on our craft, to acquire tools to help us better express the story that wants to emerge.
I have never written a piece of fiction from the first-person viewpoint before, but my WIP demands that part of the narrative be told from the protagonist’s POV.
So, for the past three months, I’ve only read and studied fiction that was written in first-person. I went deep into that point of view, practiced it on smaller projects, and now I have an additional writer’s tool to bring to the blank page, another way I can coax the story out.
Writers need to practice. We need to show up and give ourselves time to find the words, to free the story, to give the narrative its independence.
I’d love to know what this Vladimir Nabokov quote means to you, so leave me a comment below!
Catch up on the rest of my Writer’s Quote series:
K. Kris Loomis is the author of the new nonfiction book, Surviving Revision: How One Writer Finished What She Started. She has also written several books on yoga and meditation, as well as a travel memoir about the time she, her husband, and their handicapped cat moved to Ecuador.
When Kris isn’t writing at her standing desk, she can be found playing chess, folding an origami crane, or practicing a Bach French Suite on the piano. She lives in Rock Hill, SC with her husband and two cats.