where the writers are
The Alchemy of Imagery
Clutter Collage

The inclusion of images in Good Things evolved out of a happy accident.  I commute long hours by train to my academic job--as does my narrator, Jeanette--so I started photographing my desk (laden with research) and importing the photos into my text documents.  It was the closest thing to carrying all my books and papers with me that I could come up with.  I'd sit on the train, writing, and then when I got stuck, I'd study the images.  After a few months of this, I realized these images were fast becoming cornerstones, essential to the story I was trying to tell.


Incorporating images into my writing (which I'd never done before) made visible what had been previously obscured:  the relationship between the novel's historical figures (Clara and Robert Schumann; Johannes Brahms) and its contemporary echoes (Jeanette and Hart.)  Each story became more thematically resonant--and more personally meaningful--as a result.


Writing Prompt:  Collage/combine your own contemporary images (let's say, for argument's sake, your oldest child's birthday party) with a seemingly unrelated historical event that has held your imagination/fascination (let's say Austin de Iturbe y Green, the two year old Heir Presumptive to Maximilian von Habsburg, who was installed by Napoleon as Emperor of Mexico.)   Arrange them in an order that pleases you--who knows why?  Next, write a concrete description of one detail from each of these images:  a paragraph or a page, plus one line of dialogue.  Does a third story--somehow greater than its parts--suggest itself? This is the alchemy of imagery placed in text.   You are already underway.