I've been working on characters for a new book, which has set me musing about the subject of appearance and how to describe it.
How can words capture something so distinct and esoteric as a person? I suppose the question answers itself.
A few writers rather better than I have wrestled with the problem of the inadequacy of the language. I remember Eliot talking about words slipping and cracking, never staying in place, and Orwell putting it more simply but still elegantly - as was his wonderful way - when reflecting on a love letter, and asking when in life do we ever manage to say exactly what we mean?
However, as words are our only weapons, we give it our best and come up with what we can, however we might look back and wonder whether it all works.
I had a lovely comment about Adam, and how one reader imagines him looking like Alan Hansen, the Match of the Day pundit. With that I was pleased, as in my mind it's not far off - a kind of focused intensity - so I must have got the description roughly right.
As for Dan, most people tell me they imagine him as pretty ordinary (apart from that precious perception), which again is mostly what I intended; an average man aside from his journey to discover and deal with that one wonderful gift.
And as for Claire... sigh. Regular sufferers of my ramblings will know very well how I feel about her!
For the new characters, I suppose I'm trying to find a few words to describe them - enough to give a sense of what they look like to me - sufficient to set the imagination running, but without being prescriptive. It's a fine line to draw and never easy to judge. But they are starting to live for me - I'm talking to them, getting to know them better, and some I'm liking, others I'm taking against - which is a good sign.
(Even if it might be midly worrying as an indicator of the kind of thing that goes on in my head).
Anyway, the good news is that I am actually writing again, and although it's not yet pouring out with grace, elegance and style (if ever it does), it is coming. Which gives me hope I'm finally beating this horrid bout of lyrical constipation known as writer's block.
Which in turn is good for all those around me, as it holds out hope I'm going to be less grumpy!