Doing mosaic involves more than meets the eye. Cutting and gluing tiles is intricate work, and grouting requires proper consistency and learning to time the right moment to begin cleaning the excess away. It is time-consuming but wonderfully absorbing.
And it's a lot like writing fiction. (You saw that comparison coming, didn't you?) I'm starting to see my work as mosaics. For example, right now I'm piecing together the life situation of one North Caicos woman I know with the mannerisms of someone I knew in Pennsylvania, the looks of another Turks Islander and some of my own neuroses for a character I've named Trini. The trick is to make the final "product" look like one piece, a whole person instead of a collection of traits. Mosaic.
Beyond the simile, I'm also finding that being around visual artists is stimulating an ability of look at ordinary things in different ways. In addition to enjoying Lorraine's work, I've been captured by the tropical art of Gloria Clifford (www.gloriaclifford.com), Ellen Byrne's studies of life in Frederick, Md. (www.ellenbyrne.com), the surreal wanderings of Helene Ruiz (http://heleneruiz.redbubble.com) and Facebook postings by Mitzi Humphrey of Art 6 (www.art6.org). Their styles are all different, but each prods a nerve of appreciation in me that will someday translate into the language of Jody.
One of the sub-themes of Walter Kerr's 1962 book The Decline of Pleasure was that people need different forms of play that correlate to their work. Those who do physical work for a living (construction, waitresses, etc.) are best served by sports, running and dancing; engineers and other tech types need games that mimic their work, such as chess and card-playing (this was pre-video games, remember); and head-based workers (academics, journalists, etc.) should stimulate their mental muscles in the off hours with the arts.
I don't think anyone should limit himself to only one kind of leisure, but much of what Kerr says makes sense to me. Our work, no matter what it is, is our creation, so our recreation should be re-creation -- play that mimics work.
For me, being around visual artists and their work is a perfect way to stimulate my ability to "see" what I want to write. Creativity is contagious. To work better, play more.
Hmm. It looks like I'm forming a philosophy here. Bit by bit. Like a mosaic.