|photo by Tharso|
Start with the voice and let the narrative flow in all directions from that one point.
While a fair summation of how I right, and how I structure stories, and reflecting some of the resonance of Scott GF Bailey's unified theory of writing, I meant this to be flip.
My word choice tripped me up, and I haven't stopped thinking about it ever since.
You see, in aikido, we talk about a one point. Your one point, thought of as the center of the energy which the martial art draws on, is somewhere between two and four inches below your navel, depending on your physique, health, mindset, etc... Sometimes, you also work around an extension of the one point, a point in space measured out from the point in your physical body.
The idea of the one point is complex. Here are a couple of examples.
To the left, you can see me, in a rusty aikido ready stance. Most of it's not terrible, given my dress, circumstances, and rustiness. If I were doing this properly, my arms would be drawing from my one point and extending the energy out through my fingertips, directly at my target.
Below, you can see an aikido master, using the one point to lever his
opponent down. He first drew his attacker in, and then controlled him, essentially like bending a flexible rod over his knee -- except bending his opponent over the one point, in stead.
Sometimes you redirect energy from the one point. Sometimes you redirect your subject around the one point. The one point is the center of a dynamic sphere of activity at the heart of everything in aikido.
Now, back to what I said to Roni when I was smarting off: Start with the voice and let the narrative flow in all directions from that one point.
I'll be darned if that's not true to how I write. The voice really is my one point. It is the center of energy withint he body of what I'm writing. Everything else I do is to redirect that energy or to redirect my readers around it. The voice is the one point at the center of the dynamic sphere of my writing. It is the thing which I extend out into the universe, and the thing which provides the lever point for whatever impact I hope to have on the reader. The rest of the narrative really does flow from there.
Perhaps it's a little thing this analogy, but it helps me embrace the idea even further. Because I love working with analogy, it also helps me understand other things. Aikido disciplines suddenly seem directly applicable. Focus and directionality in my ready stance tells me about preparing for writing. It's about deliberate extension of voice, not about character and plot notes. Aikido exercises suddenly seem instructive. Routines in which we practice complex circular motions while pinned to one point give me insights in how to perceive my story as revolving around the voice.
Love those epiphanies...