Metaphors for the Creative Process

20 November 2013

The metaphor for the writing process of which I am most fond is the one from sculpture: you find the figure inside the stone and chip away what doesn’t need to be there. The moment of inception, of creation, is that blazing certainty of a person beneath the surface of the block. The first draft is like chisel work. The editing process is like sanding. In the end, you arrive at the David, and everyone goes home stunned by the anatomy, the elegance, the awareness of musculature and motion beneath the skin of an illusion made of stone.

Or not. Sometimes it just isn’t that. Sometimes, the whole business is more like blowing up a dead whale carcass and letting the pieces rain down on a news crew, and then from the stink and blind luck you stitch together a ghastly Frankenstein’s monster of blubber and intestinal tubing that you animate, and as it screams and creaks you add new organs, perform major surgery, and implant new slivers of brain at all the joints so that while it looks like a person it’s cognition works more like a cockroach, and then you put a beautiful skin on the whole bastard mess and people say it looks like Penelope Cruz and Ursula Andress were put together in a human particle collider and they want to marry it.

All of which sums up what I hope will be the upshot of this week’s frankly murderously difficult writing exertions, and allows me to post on the Internet’s immortal videos. Again.


4 Comments to “Metaphors for the Creative Process”

  • Jeanne said on November 20th, 2013:

    So the only thing to do is say “hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I’m quite dizzy with anticipation.”

  • Gina 123 Fischer said on November 20th, 2013:

    Your boundless talent will see you through, and no mistake. That said, I am sorry you are experiencing technical difficulties, but have no doubts we will totally stand by. And thanks for the exploding whale…you are my hero of weird.

  • Chris Brink said on November 21st, 2013:

    I feel your explanation of the exploding whale to be quite accurate… every once in a while you have to blow up a dead carcass to rain something new down upon the heads of the supplicants…. I have found that the story lies not within the stone however…. It lies within the sculptor; you have to chip away at yourself as you chip away at the stone… once you get past that first layer of flesh and hit the blood underneath you really start to see what might be…. eventually you get to the bone, then you step back, look at what you’ve done, and say ‘ah that’s rubbish’ and trash it… then about two weeks later you drag it out of the bin and look at it and say ‘damn… that’s genious!!’ Kudos on all you work so far my unmet friend… Keep it up!!!

  • […] Nick Harkaway has a metaphor for the creative process for you to mull over. […]

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