where the writers are
Plain Air Writing Contest

With every brush stroke you either add or detract from your painting, just like each word paints a clearer scene or muddies the communication between you and your reader.

Just like with painting, knowing how much to put in and where to stop is an important part of writing. Focus in art is for a perfect imbalance, sprinkled with lights and dashed with contrast. Artists follow the rule of thirds and never center the subject in the middle of the canvass. Writers should do the same, giving the main character a dominant role that is just a bit to the side of the action. Taking the reader on a downward spiral works for a little while, but only if a clearly identifiable light source can be discerned. Otherwise, readers might throw down the book in disgust. Too much light washes out the action and lacks a focal point. The point of it all, the main reason you wrote the book, has to be lead into, just like an artist uses lines and curves to lead the viewer’s eye toward the most important passage of the painting.

I just entered a Plain Air writing contest. The only one in the country, they think, which takes place later this month in Hood River, Oregon. Like the artists, we will go outside and see what inspiration happens, then read it aloud at the art gallery. I have entered this contest as a painter and writer before, and wrote a piece about how hard it is to put a mountain on an 11x14” piece of paper. My writing made the final cut but my watercolor didn’t. When I read my piece, the audience liked it so much they went into the gallery to see the painting, only to find it wasn’t hung in the final show. Ah, the pain of art and writing is the same; rejection becomes part of life, which makes the bite of success so much sweeter.