As mentioned last week, my blog has been the victim of a hacker. The site is now rebuilt and is clean. Google still flags it as hacked, but it is now safe. We’re in the process of getting Google to verify and take down their warning.
I went for a walk through the Butchart Gardens with a young relative recently. It was a lesson in point of view. Things I thought were significant, like the totem poles, received a ho-hum from the four year old, but a very sleepy bee warranted five minutes study. We met another very short person and engaged in an exchange of teddy-bear touching. There was a BIG dog, very friendly, and on a leash, but my little charge kept her fingers tightly curled into her palms when invited to meet it. When the dog is at knee-level it’s beautiful and well-behaved. When you’re face to face, it’s another perspective altogether.
There was a stroller in our company, so we took paths that avoided steps. Another point of view for me. I’m apt to take the wide path that includes a long staircase into the sunken garden. Taking the graduated route brought me to a knot garden I’d never seen before. There were little pockets of crocus and snowdrops hiding in concealed corners of the road less travelled. Every trip to the gardens requires that someone sit on the brass pony. I can pretty much step over it, but the four-year old needed a boost and then her feet didn’t reach the stirrups. Sitting on the pony became a big deal. Even mounting a giraffe on the carousel required a lot of lifting and clambering before she was safely in the saddle. It’s been years since I’ve ridden the carousel and I’d forgotten how fast it turns. If I had to hang on tight, the little one needed to cling with fingers and toes and knees. When we got off, I felt dizzy. She had no problem and declared her intention to race me to the next tree. I declined but congratulated her on her fleetness of foot.
We looked at maps every now and again and my companion sussed out the ice cream bar on the first perusal. The previous week it had been closed so I cheerfully promised an ice cream cone if the stand was open. It was! I paid up and had one for myself as well.
We went through the greenhouse because I thought she’d like the flowers. Wrong. She did however, enjoy the gold fish.
We talk a lot in writing circles about point-of-view, getting inside your character’s head, writing only what the character can experience. It’s good advice. My adventure with a chattering four year old was a perfect example.
I’ve just finished a book by a well-known contemporary author that was written entirely in the omniscient view point, surprising, since that style is now considered old-fashioned and remote. The writer is skilled at her craft, so I was engaged with the characters and their story, but all the while I kept thinking I was reading a set-up and that the real story would begin after the characters were introduced. Didn’t happen.
Another lesson in point-of-view. The technique has the advantage of letting the author tell the reader about things the character’s cannot know but which are important to the story, but it distances the reader from the characters. Instead of being inside the story, I felt like a hovering presence looking down on a stage. I was an observer rather than a participant in the drama.
I love going to workshops and learning about the craft of writing, but nothing takes the place of real-life experiences. I’ll never again walk in the Butchart Gardens without being aware that my point-of-view is not universal. I might try getting down on my knees to see what the world looks like from there.