A painting requires a little mystery, some vagueness, some fantasy. When you always make your meaning perfectly plain you end up boring people.
- Edgar Degas, 1834 - 1917
Is it possible? Was Edgar Degas writing for the Novel Matters crowd at the turn of the century? Have we been having this conversation that long? Or longer?
Oh, okay - he was talking about paintings. But he was talking about art, and a novel is a work of art painted with words, and the principle holds, doesn't it?
It has always struck me odd that Christians of all people should struggle with this one. The working title of my first novel, To Dance In the Desert, was Ten Easy Steps, because of Finis' presumption that The Ten Commandments were God's ten steps to getting what you want.
A little mystery, some vagueness, some fantasy. It's what separates a grand story from a self-help manual, and a growing faith in a magnificent inscrutable God from a trick of mind to cheer the way.
Here's an exercise for your Friday.
Study this picture. What do you suppose this woman is feeling? What is her name, and what has happened to her? And what is happening with all that light? Does she see it?
Tell me her story. I'd love to read your mysterious thoughts.