Monday, December 20, 2010

The Season of Epiphany

Baby Cat Touching the Moon
This is a kind of blurry picture of BabyCat who finally, finally got onto the highest window in the house to bat at the moon with her paw. Of course, that's not really the moon. It's the reflection of a hallway light, but she got to bat at it nonetheless as we left a ladder near the window to put up lights. She was completely baffled as to why that light didn't move like her toy balls do.

I liked that the Escher print beneath also had a moon and a lot of white and black - it just struck me so with a ton of Christmas stuff still undone (and just a ladder, no lights), I went and found the camera and took some pictures of her.

Now, what on earth does BabyCat chasing reflected light have to do with epiphanies? Well, in my tired-I've graded-way-too-many-term-papers-this-week brain, a lot. BabyCat isn't really capable of revision. And since I was kind of stuck in my revision, while I was watching her, the whole idea of why two scenes weren't
working came to me: she wasn't really batting at the moon, and my character wasn't really revealing her truth either. So after watching her, I left the lights and the wrapping undone, and wrote down notes for a new direction for my character to take. In about two seconds, while watching BabyCat, it dawned on me what I needed to do.

But those two seconds took about three months to arrive at, and I think that is the nature of any epiphany. The online dictionary says an epiphany is: "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience..."

I'm not sure BabyCat up there on that ledge is homely or commonplace, but I guess it's simple. And it's weird the way our brains fire, jumping from one image to other ones that don't seem connected at all.

On some level, you are thinking of how to solve a problem, either in writing or in some other area of your life, but you aren't really conscious of it. I have had so many areas of my life demanding my time lately, that writing has had to take a very distant backseat. I was glad though, in those few minutes of downtime while watching her up there trying to play with something that wasn't really there, that I found my way out of the bog I had landed my character in.

Now all I have to do is finish shopping, baking, cleaning, wrapping, writing out cards, grading and submitting grades and I can get back to rescue her from that bog...


storyqueen said...

This post explains revision and epiphanies in a way that totally makes sense to me.

I am right there with you!

Happy Christmas!


Anne Spollen said...

That's great, Shelley - I wondered if my brain was wired in a really odd way. You don't think it's just that we both have oddly wired brains, do you?

Happy Christmas to you!

Jemi Fraser said...

Epiphanies can come at the strangest times and from the oddest places - love it :)

Anne Spollen said...

Yup, they do, Jemi. There's not too much of the composed Zen about it like I usually picture along with epiphanies...

Marcia said...

Wow -- the smallest, weirdest things can be so important. Hope all that shopping, baking, cleaning, etc., gets done. Or, if not, then by the 23rd you can at least let it all go. One year, I asked a good friend (on the 23rd), "Well, are you ready?" And she said, "If I'm not by now, too bad." And that's been my philosophy since.

Anne Spollen said...

That's my kind of friend, Marcia ; )

Mary Witzl said...

Epiphanies always seem to come out of the blue, but you're right: they're preceded by a lot of unconscious thought. When people say they've got writing blocks, what they generally have is a blocked epiphany (or so I think).

Marcia's friend is my kind of friend too. I'm not looking for more work!

Medeia Sharif said...

I love having epiphanies. I know something is missing in my MS, but sitting there and thinking forcefully about it doesn't help. I have to wait for that unintentional ah-ha moment.

Happy holidays.