Seeing the World Through Writer-Tinted Glasses
There are so many different ways to see the world. I sometimes use my artistic eye, and when I do, I see that the billowing clouds are not white but varying grays. I notice that forests are many shades of green and tree trunks are more grey than brown. When I use my photographer’s eye, I am drawn by scenes that are complicated up close but blurred grandeur in the distance. I notice the beauty of small vignettes, like a lop-sided mushroom growing next to a winged maple seed.
However, it is my writer’s eye that keeps me occupied through thick and thin. I try to observe without judgement, the way people behave when facing stress, danger, boredom, love, sorrow and joy because no matter what the time frame: people are people. Yes, I will sit in a busy park/airport/library/store and watch. I’ll watch the interaction between mothers and children, young lovers, groups of students and someone walking a dog. The list is endless—I watch body language: secret smiles and back slapping, the furrowed brow of anxiety, tears and worried faces in the hospital, the joy of a new parent holding a tiny bundle, and children chasing one another across an expanse of grass. On a sunny warm day, I can feel happiness permeate the air around us.
Often, I will take someone’s casual glance and allow my imagination to soar. The glance is now one of admiration… no, it’s anger and the half-turned sitting position is dismissive… Perhaps it’s apprehension and the person’s hand is shaking as he points to a robin in a birch tree. Using my writer’s eye means delving deep into an emotional world. Where would I be if my readers did not understand my character’s motivation? Descriptions of where and when in my novels—clothes, customs and habits—are all needed to depict the time period but if I didn’t include the why, my readers would soon lose interest.
I try (notice the word try) to focus on the emotion of the scene or character first and foremost. It’s the reader’s footpath to a different time and place, another world. And so, my writer-tinted glasses show me a world of imagination anchored in reality.