Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Correlating Professions

The relationship between interior design and fiction writing may strike you as incongruent, but closer scrutiny reveals multiple similarities.

I’ve been working on a project: transform a drab 80’s apartment into a usable, more modern space.

I begin each design task by immersing myself totally in all aspects of each project. I start with the client/clients. Who are they? What do they want? I explore their desires and expectations. I encourage them to assert their personality and vision. We use the interview process to discover the spark, a theme so to speak, the overall cohesive view. We embark on a journey together. I become the facilitator of my client’s hopes and dreams for the space. I become the overseer. A steward. And I take my job very seriously.

When I start a story (whether short fiction or a novel) I must follow similar steps. My characters must reveal their desires and expectations. I’ve got to perform a delicate balancing act, or they won’t change and evolve. In my opinion, characters that don’t change or evolve make lousy protagonists. I’ve got to build a world for them to navigate in. I’ve got to come up with a workable, believable, relevant theme. It’s paramount to see the thing through to the end—work through the problems, the mistakes, the frustration and conflicts—no matter what. I cannot quit. I become obsessed. I eat, drink, and sleep in their world, until I’m satisfied that I have delivered a good story.

I do the same with a design task. I eat, drink, and sleep with the project until I’m satisfied that my client’s desires and expectations have been met. I make other’s priorities my own. It’s a selfless act, in a way. I’m not choosing materials and floor plans and furniture to fit my taste and lifestyle, I’m channeling someone else’s.

As an author I have to bend to my character’s will, but I have to exercise control over them as well. I must maintain a delicate balance between being led and leading.

In the end, the outcome reflects my ability to bring into focus that which might of remained obscure. The outcome is the product of my imagination. And I often feel that there is something godlike in the mix, if I can be so bold to suggest.

***Please note: the photo pictured is meant to denote a modern living room and is not a photo of my project. I will be posting before and after shots when the apartment is finished and decorated.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.


Lisa said...

looking forward to seeing some images- you have me intrigued xx

David Quiles said...

Your post is very insightful. I am now learning to wait before beginning a project. I'm getting know my characters. In the past, I'd have a basic idea for a character, put her in a situation and see what happens. This was great when I was a pup and had tons of free time but it is difficult when you're older and have responsibilities.

When is your book coming out?


Elizabeth Bradley said...

The book is coming out, or so I am told. These things take time, more time than I ever imagined. My part is done, and now I wait...

I am very anxious to post the before and after pics. As soon as all the workman leave, (time frame--a month or two), I will share them.

lakeviewer said...

Thanks for signing up to follow my blog. It's a small world,isn't it? You started in the Northwest, and moved to California; I started in CAlifornia, now in the Northwest. My husband shares your travel route.

I too write fiction and autobiographical pieces. I'm in the process of polishing my first complete memoir.

Cheffie-Mom said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I look forward to seeing your work. Have a great day!

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog today and commenting. I found this piece very interesting and revealing being a baby fiction writer. One thing this confirmed for me is the need to live, breath and eat my characters and story. I am going to need to do less blogging and more writing for that to happen!

Cheryl said...

That's so interesting. I'm a painter and a writer and I've found one process to be very similar to the other too. There is the initial phase, the idea formation, then the blocking in, then the execution for which the more I can step out of my own way the easier it will go.
There is also the training process, the thousands of good drawings I had to do before I did anything decent. And the many, many, many words I had to write before I felt I could start showing my writing to the world.

This is my first visit to your blog and I love it!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Thanks for the great feedback. I will talk more about this process in the future.