light, sound, and home

Optina Monastery today. Photo by ncosmin at Trek Earth.
I've been reading the life of Elder Nektary, who spent most of his days in the Russian monastery of Optina, until the communists closed his home. This quiet, faithful man of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries appreciated art and literature. Some ponderings of his got my attention:
There exist sound and light. An artist is someone who is sensitive to these sounds and lights which others are unable to perceive. He takes them and puts them on canvas and on paper. They become colors, notes, and words. It's as though the sounds and lights have dissolved.

A book or a painting--these are the tombs of light and sound. A reader or viewer comes, and, if he is able to creatively apprehend or read, a "resurrection" of meaning takes place. And then the circle of art is completed. Light flashes in the soul of the viewer or reader, and his hearing becomes awakened to sound. For this reason an artist or poet has no particular cause for pride. He's only doing his share of the work. In vain do they suppose themselves to be the creators of their works. There is one Creator, and man only dissolves the words and images of the Creator and then revives them by the power of the spirit given by Him.
 Elder Nektary also recognized the need for writers to consider every word:
Before beginning to write, dip the pen into the inkwell seven times.
Sometimes I think I'll spend my whole life dipping my pen...

The memoir project I started last fall has reached three chapters and is being read by several friends. My daughter was the first to comment on what I'm doing. Victoria critiques well; she consistently and kindly tells me what she really thinks. She likes the third chapter. Not that she doesn't like the first two, but by the third she's on board with where I'm heading and thinks I'm doing all right. This is helpful.

Noting her comments, I guess my other volunteer readers are finding it a challenge to get into the work. If light and sound have been resurrected for them, I've yet to hear it. So it may well be I've only got one actual chapter done--the third may become the first. I'm already beginning to think through how to make changes. Part of the toil and joy of writing, of course, is solving problems.

Thankfully, nobody's kicking me out of house and home anytime soon, as far as I know.

Comments

Jodi Henley said…
sometimes it simply takes two chapters to find where to start a story. :) It sounds like you're making good progress!
Fresca said…
I LOVE the colors of that monastery--the minty green with blue and gold. So pretty!

Three chapters? That's awesome:
Keep going, keep going!
Now we have computers, we don't have to worry about wasting ink.:)
deanna said…
Jodi, you're right, and I can be glad, if I've found the right beginning, it only took this long. Thanks. :)

Fresca, I do still waste ink, because I compulsively print out "dailies" (sort of), and then I carry them with me to futz with in doctors' waiting rooms (spilling more gel pen ink). But I'm soothed, I guess, by that sort of tactile therapy and practice.
Longleaf said…
So right, Deanna, that part of -- maybe the heart of -- the toil and joy of writing is solving problems. Some days it's a glossy, fat braid that comes undone easily; others it's a tight knot in a thin gold chain that simply will not yield. But each day, we return to the work (and the play).

Thank you for planting the ideas from Elder Nektary in my head. I never thought of words as a distillation of light and sound, but now, I'll never think of it any other way.

Wonderful to reconnect. I appreciate your visits.
deanna said…
Good to trade thoughts again with you, too, Beth!