Let My People Go

 

columnsDesert heat broiled the air between the Pharaoh and the stuttering man at the bottom of the polished palace steps. Familiar eyes buried in creased skin and crass beard flashed recognition of the ruler’s inner conflict.

“Let my people go!” His voice was strong. No stuttered phrase, powerful audacious words poured from the intruder.

“Brother,” the Pharaoh stepped toward the man who was once his childhood playmate, sure he could be swayed to reason.  But the quartz in his dark eyes and the shift in his squared shoulders spoke otherwise.

The Pharaoh pressed his forehead to the cool stone of the massive column that supported the vaulted ceiling.  Smoothed with exacting precision and carved with intricate detail, the colossal column had stood for generations, unyielding, unwavering, and indestructible. The very traits of a good Pharaoh, it represented strength and endurance. Its carvings carried the story of his people, the soul of the Egyptians.

What story will I pass down?  Will it be one of power or one of defeat?

He ran his palm along the smooth pepper-flecked red stone of the column, calling through the ages to his ancestors to speak to him through the stately and graceful curve of the Palmimmovable monolith. He dug his fingertips into the trenches of carvings of the gods of his people.  He ran pensive eyes up to the palm that splayed to support the beam of his mighty palace. This behemoth pillar stood firm, the representation of his heritage, endurance.  His mind became as unbending as the granite beneath his fingers.

He snapped black eyes to the insolent man in front of him and spat. “I WILL NOT, let your people go.”

***

Can you see the column at the Pharaoh’s finger tips? Did you visualize it as the description poured out?  Did you feel you were standing there stroking the stone with the Pharaoh?

I did.

No, I really did.  I have a confession to make.  I robbed the British Museum in London, England. I walked right in and sauntered right out with invaluable artifacts. Before you call MI-6, let me explain.

The Heist

It was late. The museum was about to close. I had scurried around corners, up endless stairs, trailing behind five nimble teens, who were determined to see The Rosetta Stone, Egypt, Japan, and the Greek marbles before we had to leave. We snapped shots of mummies  and Samurai swords in a blur of activity, then we walked into a room and paused between two enormous stone columns. I looked down at the plaque, gaped in shock then reached out.  I touched the column that Moses stood before as he uttered the famous words. “Let my people go.”  It was a defining moment. The experience ran through the tips of my fingers and planted itself deeply in my soul. I stole away with the magical moment and I am undoubtedly richer because of it.

Experience is the ink with which the writer bleeds onto the page.

Without touching, tasting, feeling, smelling, living in the moment, we have trouble with description. We have to experience things, in order to fill our imaginations with fuel to write.

 

 

The Exodus

How do we capture, then release these experiences into our writing?

Retain

Drop the moment into your long term memory when it happens and rehearse it.

A different process for everyone, some use notebooks to scribble details down as they experience them. Some take pictures. I actively observe and purposely give myself phrases to remember.

Stonehenge LaDonna Cole

Stonehenge
LaDonna Cole

Fetid stench

the lichen encrusted stones

Swirling iridescent colors

intense longing from a place of depth, l I thought I was being turned inside out

Recall

Recalling the specifics when you get to a desk or computer can be strenuous. We are tempted to just write past the experience and move on with the story.  But if we will just pause, pull up the experience in our memories and ruminate on it a moment, we will begin to remember particulars. Detail is what differentiates a good piece from an excellent piece.

 Pause

             Pull up

                        Perceive

                                   Prognosticate

                                                             Prose

Release

Give your character permission to access the memory and play with it. Have the Pharaoh sink his fingertips into the column. Let your secret spy experience free fall through her own personality. Let the spittle and fetid breath of the gorilla blow back the hair of your protagonist. Give them permission to access your experiences. Let them be free to respond to the input in their own voice. What might have been exhilarating for you may be exhausting to your character.  Let her go, let him experience it through her/his own personality.

British Museum

British Museum

Let your people go!

 

LaDonna Cole in front of lichen encrusted stones of Stonehenge.

LaDonna Cole in front of lichen encrusted stones of Stonehenge.

 

See full article from Obey the Muse dot com.

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2 thoughts on “Let My People Go

  1. Seriously, LaD, I’m always so impressed with how well put forth and logical that you posts are. You always tie so much into them.

    I’d say that no one can really write well who doesn’t go out and experience life. Truly. I think that in order to write, we have to live. We have to feel things, just like you did when you touched the column. Love this so much!

    Like

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