Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Just Write

Filed in Stories, voices, Writing :: October 24, 2011

Mark Rothko, Untitled (Seagram Mural sketch), 1959 , National Gallery of Art, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc., 1986.43.156

I’ve been thinking about Mark Rothko, sort of.

Daphne Gray-Grant is all about writing fast and fluidly, which is why I like to read her.  About a week ago, she wrote about seeing the play Red, quoting this comment by Rothko to his assistant, Ken:

“Most of painting is thinking.  Didn’t they teach you that?  Ten percent is putting paint onto the canvas.  The rest is waiting.”

This is not what I always preach and always try to practice, which goes something like this: Most of writing is writing.  Even thinking is best done with pen put to paper.  There is no substitute for writing.   So just write.

But about a week ago, I was tired.  It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I’ve been (very happy to be) speaking a lot.  I needed to quiet down for a few days.

Over the weekend, I read the play.  Toward the end, Ken, in frustration, expresses his own version of Rothko’s work style, characterizing it as “let’s-look-at-the-fucking-canvas-for-another-few-weeks-let’s-not-fucking-paint-let’s-just-look.”

Ken knows the danger.  Let’s not paint.  Let’s not write.  “Let’s just look”–or think, or wait.

I’ve looked, thought, waited, and read Red.

Now it’s time to write.  Join me?