“See what isn’t there.” A Sherlock Holmes directive? A message from outer space?
On the contrary, it’s powerful advice about creativity voiced in a film I’ve belatedly gotten around to seeing – “The Magic of Belle Isle.” It’ was recommended by a friend who told me I’d “love it,” because “it’ s about a writer with a writing block.”
It is, indeed, about a writer (superbly played by ever-dependable Morgan Freeman) and filled with quotes that reverberate, not only about writing, but life, love and the advantage of typewriters! “They’re a bit slower (than computers) but the teeth bite into the paper and you know there’s a genuine human being at work,” declares Freeman’s crusty character.
He’s a well-known author of Westerns, but his wife ‘s death has put out any spark of creativity in him. A bitter man, he’s been confined to a wheelchair most of his life because of an accident when he was young. For years he found salvation in the cowboy hero he created who “can do all the things I can’t.”
He moves to Belle Isle, a lakeside community, for the summer. There he meets an aspiring writer who’s all of nine years old. Finn, as she’s named, begins by asking him to give her three important words she’s been told to learn. When he says, “Imagination,” she wants to know why that’s important. He tells her,”It’s the most powerful force ever made available to man.”
She wants him to teach her how to write, naively asking, “Where do stories come from?” (something we’d all like to know!)
He tells the child to describe the road outside, which is clearly devoid of people or vehicles. When she complains there’s nothing there he gives her a mystifying order: “See what isn’t there.” When she asks how that’s possible he tells her: “See it with your mind’s eye.”
Ultimately she manages to “see” a young girl walking on the empty beach. and goes on to verbally make up an entire episode. Freeman informs her she has now written her first story.
This freezing March morning my own creativity seems frozen, and there’s nothing to see but my familiar room and the icy world outside,. But those lines from the movie are reminding me that inspiration doesn’t have to depend on some bustling exotic scene. The story waiting to be written is there for the taking, if we learn to see what may be invisible to others.
Books: ”Widow’s Walk” – iUniverse.com; “Turning Toward Tomorrow”-xlibris.com; “Ten Women of Valor” and “Role Play” – CreateSpace and Amazon.com. Aso Amazon Kindle.