I’m making my way through all of Virginia Woolf’s writing, and reading her for me is a rich, unhurried exercise. My notes from Mrs. Dalloway and The Waves are full of copied down passages that made me stop in time.
The images Woolf painted with words as she described the effect of light on color were so beautiful and vivid I wasn’t willing to let them float past my mind’s eye as the story shifted scene. I often felt compelled to break with the narrative and sit and linger in the vision of a particular moment for a spell.
Each time I read her I am struck by how beautifully, how like a visual artist, Woolf saw. And more remarkably, not only saw, but effectively translated sight to symbols – words – so exact that they enable her readers to conjure those vivid, poignant images for themselves over and over again and on into the future.
A scribbled note of my own in bold print sandwiched between the Woolf quotes in my reading journal:
“I want to make pictures like Woolf writes.”
It’s an audacious goal, but in order to grow we need to keep setting our targets out a bit beyond our current reach. I don’t know if I’ll ever make a photo as transcendent as a Woolf sentence, but I plan to keep the following one top of mind whenever I have a camera in my hands this summer.
“The sun had risen to its full height . . . it gave to everything its exact measure of color.“
Virginia Woolf, The Waves
What will you be setting your sights upon? I’d love to hear.