Thursday, January 8, 2009

The acceleration of words . . .

. . . As someone with a wee bit of science in my background, I love to see where the worlds of science and literature intersect. And not just in the subject matter (although I've read my share or more of science fiction/science fact over the years).

It has occurred to me (she pontificated) that the "motion," "act," "process" of writing involves a lot of physics. There's inertia: the tendency of an object in motion to remain in motion, or when at rest to remain at rest. Well, I've certainly experienced that moment when first sitting down to write, the moment of stillness. The moment of, "Where am I in this process? Where am I going? How do I do this? Am I crazy?" Sometimes, that "writing inertia" lasts a whole lot longer than a moment, even as I engage in a bit of mental chaos/random walk action as I, instead of writing, fold laundry, eat cookies, brew coffee, pay bills, and otherwise avoid the process of putting my rear in the chair and writing.

And who hasn't experienced the flip side of inertia? That wonderful process when the writing flows almost faster than one can type and, indeed, accelerates from mind to fingers to page, and all else disappears except the world one is creating.

But then, in the real world, there is always friction—the force that resists motion when the surfaces of two objects come into contact. Friction acting against the writing process can be that enormous pile of dirty clothes that have to be washed (else no one will have clean socks), the kids throwing blocks at each other in the family room, the dentist appointment that you must go to. Even more serious forces can come into play to work against writing: Loss of a job. The death of a loved one. Serious illness. . . . You get the picture.

Well, I won't get into quantum mechanics this time around, but will save that for another post.

I'll just finish by saying that when things are working well in the writing world, it can feel somewhat like hydrodynamics (the study of fluids in motion): At first it can seem uncertain and random, but given time, it develops, a structure or pattern grows, and it all begins to make sense in a most complex, magnificent dance.

13 comments:

Camille Minichino said...

I can hardly wait until you get into quantum mechanics and time travel! As with fiction, rules can be broken in quantum physics, as long as the big picture stays the same.

Wonderful blog site, Ann. I'm squeezing it onto my bookmark bar, between "CURIE" and "LINCOLN" ...

I'll be back often.

Ann Parker said...

Thank you, Camille! ... And thanks for the quantum physics input. I thought I'd start with classical and go from there. :-)

Marvin D. Wilson said...

"That wonderful process when the writing flows almost faster than one can type and, indeed, accelerates from mind to fingers to page, and all else disappears except the world one is creating."

Yes - blessed indeed are those rapturous zones!

Good post. I look forward to your post dealing with quantum mechanics - a fascinating field of interest to me.

Katie Hines said...

I loved the way you "science-fied" the process of writing. It was definitely an interesting post!

Ann Parker said...

Hi Marvin ...
Yeah, isn't being in "the zone" great? It's kind of Zen-like, in that all else falls away, but different. :-)

Hi Katie ...
Thanks! It's definitely an "intersection of worlds" that intrigues me. I'll be exploring it some more, in a non-linear fashion. :-)

Helen Ginger said...

Definitely a unique way of looking at writing. I like it! And I'm no good at science. I'll be back for the time travel explanation. Unless you zipped back in time and already did it.

I definitely like the times when the writing comes fast and easily more than the sit-and-stare-at-the-computer times.

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

I can't comment about writing, but that picture sure is neat!

Chris V. said...

Holy cow! I didn't realize that writing was that complicated. ha! Well you and Camille, I know, have plenty to chat about. I did better with English than math and science. Oh, and art, hence LOVE the graphic!

Ann Parker said...

It may take some "time" (ha!) before I tackle time travel, but I'll definitely get to it.

Aren't the graphics neat? Supercomputer simulations these days can be just amazing, artwise and sciencewise. I actually had a different one in mind, which is/was a movie showing a fluid dynamics process in action, but alas, the link no longer works.

Beth Groundwater said...

I have to keep rediscovering that the best way to fight inertia is to put gravity to work for me by sinking my butt into the writing chair. ;) Thanks for a very interesting perspective on the writing process!

Ann Parker said...

Hello Beth,
You're most welcome! :-)

Angela Wilson, author said...

I SO wish you had been my science teacher. This is an example I can relate to on so many levels.

I LOVE this metaphor for the craft - and that graphic at the bottom.

Thanks for sharing!

Angela Wilson
http://www.marketmynovel.com

Ann Parker said...

Hello Angela!
Thank you! I think, in a parallel universe, I could have been (?verb tense for parallel universes?) a science teacher.
Now Camille (first comment, here) managed to do just that and be an author of mysteries as well! Pretty neat trick, that.