Cells, and Mitochondria…

…And other semi-pretentious science metaphors for writing.

When one writes, one uses the building blocks of language (In English: letters, punctuation, spaces) to construct whatever one is attempting to convey. In this way the characters and blank space used form segments of meaning, which in turn constitute larger meanings, and eventually add up to a complete work of thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of individual characters.

With modern writing tools like word processors the reality of modular text is extremely visible. If I think a phrase needs to be at a different part of a sentence I can move it. If I want to move a paragraph its as simple as cut and paste.

Characters could be equated to molecules and words to cells. Larger structures like sentences and paragraphs can be equated to larger physical structures. Is a chapter like an organ for a book? And is one book one body? If so, does that make the white space like arteries and veins?

Perhaps my affinity for this metaphor, which is already growing overly extended after two paragraphs, can be traced to my Catholic background. At various points in bible, or ritual, or dogma, Jesus is equated with the word of God. Words form bodies, bodies of work, or on a smaller scale, functional textual organisms.

A book functions as a living person in some strange ways. It has its depths. It has its small authentic moments and the more ambitious attempts to claw at sky.

In English classes my fellow students and I learned about how the voice of the ‘speaker’ in a given poem differs from the voice of the poet. In my recent fiction I frequently write from the perspective of women, despite being a man.

Even a blog post like this has personality independent of the writer behind it. In particular, this post includes an embracing of my more pretentious and thoughtful side. It also borrows from my limited understanding of biology for the metaphors. It does not mean as much to me as a child would, but in some ways a work resembles a child generated from a parent. It is not the same at the parent in form, but shares the traits of the parent in ways both obvious and subtle.

The voice of a work is not necessarily the voice of the main character, though it is in some forms (First person viewpoint most distinctly). The story told in most books is not the ideal story of any of the characters. The body of a book originates from places beyond the page but its my belief the majority of the text exists only when composed. Before composition the ingredients are there, the key ideas exist, but the meat of a book does not exist until the writer assembles the characters into words, into sentences, into paragraphs. Even a heavily outlined book is almost always composed of fresh text in the actual story.

Perhaps this is the join between George R.R. Martin’s garden and Brand Sanderson’s architecture. Gardens originate from blueprints. Moments must be discovered. In the process the dichotomy of two becomes a single spectrum.

This post is more or less my musings on a very micro-level subject. I’ve been writing well lately. But I need to do my words for today. Don’t let the hump day get you down!

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