I took a trip recently with my Jeep, Betty, at the base of the mountains.
It seemed fitting to sit among nature, reading a book about the wild nature of women and the ways the physical world has stirred and fueled the female spirit since the very beginning.
At about that same time, I had been asked to write a love story for a fellow blogger. To find out how my book reading amid nature turned into a love story about nature and the role of “The Wild Woman,” read my guest article earlier this month with author Jessica Null Vealitzek at True STORIES. Jessica’s debut novel, The Rooms Are Filled, will release in April (it’s already on my to-read list). I’m thrilled to share my experience with her readers. Thank you, Jessica.
At night I’ve been known to stare into the quiet darkness beyond our windows, so different from the fierce sunlight of the day and its illumination. And I wonder: what really happens out there, after the sun slithers behind the mountains? What happens behind the scenes?
A lot, it appears. When our blinds are drawn to the skies canvassed in the soft black felt of night, things do, indeed, go bump … Or maybe pssstt or hissss ….
That ain’t no housecat, folks! This is Bob, our resident bobcat, marking his territory – an old mining tube that stands about two-feet tall. Click to enlarge.
Thanks to our new trail camera, we’ve captured Bob in action on quite a few nights, illustrating that there is a lot is happening that we can’t see (and VERY close to our back yard, along the rock wall):
We’ve also seen:
A cautious, yet intrepid, coyote. Click to enlarge.
Suckling baby javelinas. Click to enlarge.
All of this “not-seen-by-me, but clearly-it’s-happening” enlightenment made me think a lot about books and all the things happening behind the scenes in some literary works. This was probably top-of-mind because my book club had read The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud, and I’d commented that this story wasn’t really about the story; it was largely about what wasn’t in the narrative. It was about those things behind the actual story taking place: the hidden themes, the brilliant symbolism and parallels between artists and women, and women artists, and living and life and obsession. Because, frankly the story itself was a quiet “not much happening” kind of tale.
Even so, I loved it, because, for me, a good book is one that is laced with those things unseen – an invisible tapestry draped over the action of the story and, embroidered within it, thematic parallels, symbolic gestures, lush descriptions, hidden meanings, inspections of the larger philosophical issues of life… similar to those unseen things – yet very much “there” – that happen under the cloak of darkness in my back yard.
For Readers: As a reader, are you moved by the story alone – for the quick jolt of entertainment value? The fast-moving plot? The heart-pounding adrenaline? Or are you like me, participating in a scavenger hunt each time you read, excited each time you pick out something hidden?
For Writers: How important are the ‘behind-the-scenes’ elements in your fiction? How do you go about incorporating them?
Sometimes our best inspiration for our writing – and our lives – is right in front of us. So whether you’re a writer or just someone who wants to experience life with eyes wide open, I invite you to see what I saw.