A few days ago I read this post by Joseph.
I grew up in the city. My childhood was filled with streets, cars, bikes, buses and metros, trains, and people. Lots of people everywhere. But, no landscape. Unless you count Mont-Royal. Architecture yes, a view – no.
When I was a young adult I traveled, and all my photos were of landscape, not of faces. I remember standing and shooting the Syrian mountains for hours. Waterfalls. Oceans, seas. Bedouin tents. Bombed buildings aside apartment buildings. Wildlife. Mountain goats (my childhood nickname from my parents – what does that say about me??). Southern shanty towns. Ok. Some of these are not the most desirable kind of landscape (and I have even probably expanded the definition of landscape) to be surrounded by, but I was in awe. I hardly ever took a photo of a person. At home, I had plenty of people, in all forms, shapes, and sizes (gotta love Montreal for that alone 🙂 ). All my friends always told me I took the most boring pictures EVER!
Does my writing include pages and pages of scenery and description? No, but when editing I do come across gorgeous prose that just goes nowhere because all it did was describe a room for two paragraphs too long. Slash, slash. Painful, but necessary. I can read description though, and when reading older literature I am at times envious of the fact that the author was given permission to ramble on for pages at a time, describing detail.
When I grew up some more, faces became interesting again. She was mad, she sad, he anxious. Each face told a story, a thousand stories. One of my top priorities is to visit Angkor Wat. Ancient city, jungle, and faces. Massive faces carved out of stone staring at you from every angle. I have seen slide-shows from a family member who has returned to Petra, and I am always in awe at the presence these faces hold.
Painting provided by courtesy of Robert Brown (acrylic).
So, faces found their way back into my photos. As Joseph pointed out, landscape without people is boring.
I was thinking about this last night, and wondered if it is perhaps my fascination with people that led me to begin writing as an adult. (As a child and pre-teen that was a whole other kind of motivation). But, then I thought, no, for me it is their stories.
How do you use description in your writing?