Sunday Blog 116 – 24th December 2023

With my second-last blog for 2023 I’m sharing a nugget from a recent online writing course I did with Dani Shapiro to help re-boot my writing practice. Dani Shapiro is one of my favourite authors – she writes both fiction and non-fiction and teaches writing classes every now and then. This was an online course but one day, one day, I will attend one of her workshops in person.

Paris 1979 with siblings – me on the right

At age 14 in 1979 I had the opportunity to go to Europe with my family. Do a Tour taking in all the culture, marinade in art. Florence was one destination, and we made a pilgrimage to see Michelangelo’s statue of David. All these years later I can still recall the unfinished marble statues outside and inside the main gallery. You could see the figures, trapped and fighting to be freed by the sculptor’s touch. And then walking into the room where the exquisitely complete David statue was displayed. So much bigger than I thought it would be! And to be live, in person! To be able to walk all around David and realise with a thrill, realise that he has the string of his catapult across his back. While my parents were concerned that I was mainly looking very disengaged, even disenchanted (see Paris photo for an example), in reality I was taking it all in, deep.

So when I participated live in Dani Shapiro’s course, and watching the replay for the sessions from the wee hours, I loved what she had to say about writing. Unlike a sculptor, we don’t start with a block of marble. Michelangelo apparently said that David was already in that block of marble, and all he had to do was to free him. But as writers we have the empty page. And the empty page is nothing. A first draft however, is our block of marble.

It has re-invigorated my editing process and reminded me of the value of re-writing. My statue of David is not quite yet forthcoming (lol) but I live in hope!

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