Two weekends ago we Wordwraiths held our first (but most definitely not last) write-in at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.
What is a write-in? Well, it’s where writers gather together in a designated place to write in each other’s company. We can brainstorm together, vent about feral plot lines together, or simply write quietly with our headphones in and be content in the knowledge that we aren’t alone in our mostly solitary noveling venture. Write-ins are great opportunities for writers to get out and about, get some words down, and visit with and communicate with fellow writers.
What is the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures? WELL. Folks, it’s amazing. And sadly, I didn’t even know about it until a few months ago, and I live here! I know, I’m truly ashamed. This place is another of Kansas City’s hidden gems—and you absolutely MUST go check it out if you haven’t yet. Maybe toys and miniatures aren’t your thing … but they WILL be after you go to this place. Visit their website to check ‘em out!
I never considered myself a fan of miniatures, personally. Until I went on that (fabulous) museum tour and heard about how miniature fine artists sometimes spent nine to fourteen years on one project. NINE TO FOURTEEN YEARS! On a tiny house. Or one piece of tiny (yet absolutely perfect) furniture! And here is the thing … these tiny little replicas of real-life things were just. so. precise. I could have spent days in the miniature gallery, studying every single microscopic and yet brilliant detail on those pieces. I was floored by the details, by the time commitments to these pieces, by the huge amounts of research the artists did on something before creating a piece.
Like the artist who created a miniscule violin workshop inside a real violin, who apprenticed himself for three months to a violin maker just so he could be sure to have all the details right.
And it struck me how working on a novel is similar. So much time and effort goes into writing a novel. So much detail, some of which never actually hits the page. So many hours upon hours of research and character building that the reader never actually sees, except by the richness of the novel’s world that results. And afterwards, so many hours of editing. Editng and editing and editing to make the final piece really perfect.
It made me think of how novels are sort of miniatures in and of themselves. Novels are things you can hold in your hand … and yet they contain entire worlds. Several different people. Lots of adventures. Compressed into something you can take with you anywhere, especially in this day and age of digital books.
It drove home the fact, again, that books are art. This is an easy fact to forget when you’re in the nitty gritty of it, and I’m sure the miniature artists sometimes felt the same way. But it’s the truth. A book, a story, is art. It takes time. Devotion. Research. Love. And when you’re finally done, people may or may not appreciate all the sweat and blood and tears you put into it. You may or may not get anything at all in return for all of that effort … whether money or reviews or just plain notice.
But the bottom line is that you created something awesome, nonetheless. Even if no one else realizes it, at least you can realize it (or you should!). A perfect replica chair created at 1/12 scale has no real purpose in the world except to be marveled at for the sheer fact that it exists.
Well, when you finish a book … it may not be perfect and it may never sell, but it exists, damnit. It exists where a book like that one didn’t exist before, and that’s not nothing.
So keep your head up, fellow writers. Keep on keeping on.
Remember you’re making art, and that takes time and a lot of determination. That’s hard. Not everyone can do that. But you are.
Good on you.
Now go visit the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City and be inspired! And if you’d like to come to our next write-in at the Museum, or any of our other events, bookmark this website and check back every now and then for our event announcements! We’d love to see you!
Jeni and the Wordwraiths