IMG_2027In the car yesterday, I was listening to the CD that came with The Writer’s Notebook. On it are two recordings. One was a discussion on character. On the panel were Ron Carlson, Dorothy Allison, and Dennis Johnson. There was no introduction; it just started. Some of it sounded familiar.

When I got home, I looked up my notes from the two summers I went to the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop. This recording was from the summer of 2005. I had actually been there.

What was sticking in my brain this time, though, was largely different from what I had taken notes on then. Ah, I thought, I’m in a different place now with my writing–hopefully a further-along place.

Which is an argument for rereading everything.  Who knows what you will notice the next time.

Which brings me to my point…This time, the main thing that stood out was Dorothy Allison saying, “I’m a watcher.”

Until I started writing, I was not a watcher or a noticer. Now I am. And that’s a good thing. Being a watcher helps me catch days. It helps make things stick. And character, as well as life, is all there in the details.

“She bought throw pillows, for example, and buying throw pillows is in my experience the single best indicator that a female human being is feeling pretty good.”  from Sight Hound by Pam Houston

“A pot simmering on the stove helps my father to believe we are still a family.”  from Fugitive Blue by Dani Shapiro

Details, details…

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