I once saw a musical – Children of Eden – in which a giant snake plays a central role. It slithered and meandered around the stage in pieces. One actor played the talking head, garbed in a glittery jumpsuit, to portray the beauty of Satan before The Fall. The body was a large silvered tail handled by 5 other actors all dressed in the invisibility of black. They coiled and cavorted behind the head, twisting and dipping but never connecting. That separation fascinated me – that constant bit of ‘white space’ between the two. It was in that wiggle room where art took over. The snake completely sold the audience. It was my favorite part of the show.
White space is essential to life. It provides breathing room for the soul, direction to the psyche, respite against chaos. It may look different on a page of text but it is there. Or should be. As a writer, white space (aka negative space) happens when I leave stuff out. It gives the reader a chance to fire up all his synapses and make some connections without me spelling out every detail in a long-winded, flowery explanation. It’s the distance between the snake’s head and his tail. It’s verbal hopscotch. It’s the distinction between what is … and what is Art.
* Note: Major editing was employed in the writing of this article.
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