Writing Practice and the Muse who is ALWAYS THERE
Writing Leap #45
WRITING THE GESTURE
Hi Writers Out There,
A small organic gesture can be a microscope into a character’s larger inner world. Like the guy who nudges you aside without looking at you so he can get on the elevator first. Or the child who fixes her grandpa’s crooked glasses. The reveal can be for those characters who observe the gesture, sometimes for those who make the gesture and always for the reader.
Here’s my gesture story.
I had never been 12,000 feet up in the Colorado Rockies where the air was thin and pure and the untouched alpine wildflower meadow stretched lavender in front of me. I wasn’t at home there yet. But I so wanted to be.
Hiking up the pass with two locals, Karen and Bruce, I could feel how familiar and bonded they were with the rocks, sparse grasses and shifting expanse of clouds and blue,blue sky. As we hiked higher I began to feel my fascination inspired by theirs.
A little brown bug landed on my shoulder. As Karen mused to us about the sunset, she flicked the tiny bug off my shirt into her hand with great tenderness, without appearing to notice it. It was like a reflex. Killing it was as odious an idea to her as eating it. She sent him off on his way and continued with her thoughts on the orange clouds.
A tiny unconscious gesture can be so full, so revealing. In that moment I saw into Karen’s soul. I understood that she revered everything that lived up in those mountains with a tenderness that spilled over to the rest of her life. Even a tiny bug.
This story took place a long time ago but I have never forgotten it. In one moment my pleasure in mountain spruce, red coyotes and purple columbine deepened into reverence and wonder and I have gratefully become over the years ever more intimate with the natural world around me wherever I am. It has been testimony to the strength of Karen’s gesture
So Writers, I find “gesture-observing” fun. Conversing casually with strangers, watching people interact in public places. Noticing something an actor does in a play or movie. Try it. See anything you can use for your characters? It’s great writing practice for revealing your character without his even knowing it!
Happy Writing and People Watching Everyone,
LINKING THE ARTS
About bugs, I find Charlotte the spider in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web irresistible.