Reverb11: Beauty

Describe of moment of beauty that you witnessed this year.

It concerned me at first that I could not name a moment of beauty from this year. I wondered what that may say about me, in a way that being unsure about the moment of joy also made me stop and wonder what I may be lacking in my soul.

Even when we spiritually understand the beauty behind an oak tree, we don’t always encounter an oak tree and say, “How beautiful.” I don’t think this makes us lesser people though. If it did, I would be indicting myself, because things that I know to be beautiful in concept do not always strike me as a proverbial “thing of beauty.” Yet even taking that into consideration, I can’t fire off a list of beautiful things I witnessed per se this year. (There is my latest niece, but I wrote about her already for the laughter prompt.)

Am I blind to what is beautiful? I think sometimes we all are. I don’t feel guilt or panic just yet at the small amount of beauty from this year I can recall, but I suppose I should at least consider the possibility that I am not taking in as much of it as I could or should be. Duly noted.

Of course like joy, I could be over defining beauty. I am a man of words, and so I hear “beauty” and think of something much more profound than a lot of people. My “pretty” may be the next man’s “beautiful.”

All of that being said, I get hung up not just on the beauty part of this prompt, but on the “witness” part of it. What is it to witness? Does it mean that which is beautiful must be apart from what I am, as though I am the mere observer? In order to witness something, must it be free of my own influence? Or may I witness the beauty of something in which I have played a part, the beauty being greater than the sum of the parts? If we say that we can “witness” such a thing, than I do have my answer to today’s prompt.

A thing of beauty I witnessed this year was the unfolding of the final scene of my novel.

I had known the gist of the scene for quite some time. A year or more. The ending in fact was one of the first things I saw when the idea for this novel came to me back in 2009. In a way everything I did, from outlining to rough draft, to second draft,  (and soon) future drafts was leading towards that moment, making it right. I knew in other words, the destination. Yet I didn’t know which roads I would take to get there.

Back in April, after about a year of spending time with these characters, their setting, and arranging things so that they could each go through the journey they seemed to “want” to take, I wrote the final scene. Just as I had seen it happening for all the time leading up to then. And yet, even more so. I knew right where it was going, yet once I got there, the moment of writing it led me into this sense of connection with the creative process. The story. The characters. That this universe I had assisted in revealing had unfolded in such a way that all was as it should be. There is much work left to do in the novel, but I could almost sense the whole thing nodding its acceptance and appreciation for having gotten to the point I had created for the final scene. This understanding of the ending being what it should be for the story I had written was a beautiful moment to me.

I will be spending more time with these characters of course. But the first draft is perhaps the most intimate time a writer spends with his fiction, because even he is just getting to know who and what is going on. Listening, being guided, getting into it all, nudging things when needed. When I got to the end of that first draft and felt that those in it were “happy” as it were, I was able to take a step back and enjoy the scene as it was unfolding. Not as the writer, but as the interpreter.  The chord the novel strikes in the end is beautiful to both the character and to those who read it, hopefully. And to this writer.

I am uncertain if this was beautiful because of the nature of the particular scene, or because it was the end. If you asked me if everything I have written has that moment of beauty attached to it when I am finished, I would have to tell you no. Satisfaction. Joy. Excitement. Relief. These are all natural feelings at the end of a piece of any length, if I have done my job. But to say that the end always presents a certain beauty in its own right? No. The finishing of this novel is one of the few writings where that has happened, and the only time it happened this year. Or for many years in fact.

Am I guilty of hubris for finding something I took part in creating to be beautiful? I hope not. I don’t sense that it is though. I do not get the impression the Divinities are angered by it. If anything, perhaps it is an acknowledgment that anything created is only partially due to the creator. A writer guides, but does he create everything he writes? I am not sure. I only know that when I got there, this time, it was a thing of beauty, and I have no problem stating that it was more than just myself at work.

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3 Comments

  1. This makes sense to me.

    “A thing of beauty I witnessed this year was the unfolding of the final scene of my novel.”

    As writers, we cherish those times when we _know_ something strikes that right chord, where even we have no doubt it will reach readers.

    “A writer guides, but does he create everything he writes?” – That feeling of watching yourself type or the pen move across the paper–yes. This. Love it. You're tapping into something that is more than you, but it wouldn't be there without you.

    And I think our Muse, while demanding, is a gentle Muse when it comes to us being happy with what we produce.

  2. I think a sastisfying ending to a personal project is a very beautiful thing indeed…

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  1. Reverb12: Beautiful Things? « Ty Unglebower

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