Have you ever felt like this?
Written by
Christina Brandon
August 2010
On a group tour of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, our docent took us to this painting by Egon Schiele (a student of Klimt). Right away, I was struck by how dirty the painting was-- I mean how messy the strokes are, how most of the colors, even the reds and oranges, appear crumpled and soiled-- just like the subject's clothes. His eyes are huge, intense, staring. His fingers are rigid, frozen in mid-gesture. The other members of the tour described him as being "crazy" or "sleep-deprived." I said nothing and kept studying the piece, trying to figure it out. The docent told us that the subject, a friend of the painters, a writer named Paris von Gutersloh. It clicked. He's a writer. It made perfect sense! I have felt like how he looks-- frustrated, tense, intent, desperate, determined, exhausted, rumpled. My hands have stopped like his, in mid-thought, struggling to turn an abstract idea into words. I have sat so long in one chair, desperately sorting out a plot problem or creating a new character, that it became part of me-- as much a part of my writing process as anything else. I imagined a desk pushed out in front of him, strewn with messy piles of papers containing scribbled notes of half-formed ideas, diagrams, character sketches, the manuscript buried beneath. Ink stains on the desk, floor, and fingers (of course). I wouldn't want to look at that disaster either so I'd stare straight ahead, imagining.

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