Monday, January 3, 2011

A Writer's Eyes

The other day I met a girl who had read my novel, Nature Girl.  She wanted to know all kinds of things.  How long did it take me to write the book?  Why did I name the dog Arp?  Is Trail Blaze Betty really a person?  Then she asked me a question I had never thought about.  What's it like to look at the world with a writer's eyes?

At the time, my answer wasn't very interesting.  I think I said writers observe whatever they need to describe.  For example, I spent a lot of time watching how little white dogs trot along a path.  But I kept thinking about her question.

How does Jane the writer look at the world? 

I never let things go.  I remember all the remarks any sensible person would ignore.  If something bad happens to me, I dwell on it.  I bear grudges.  I'm moody because I have to think about things until somehow or other I make sense of them.

Actually I don't make sense.  I make a story.   Even when I was a child, no matter what terrible thing happened to me, I would always say, well at least that will make a good story.  

When I was 9, my enemy shot spit balls at me on the school bus until I finally flung one back at her.  Naturally the bus driver punished me for shooting a spit ball.  I was humiliated and miserable, but after I thought about it enough, I knew this irony could make an amusing story.

An oyster protects itself from a bit of dirt by covering it with layers of nacre.   Without that irritation and without those layers, there would never be a pearl.

So that's how I view the world -- as a source of both the irritating bits and the beauty.