I’ve been working at different levels through my three books – revisiting my first book in preparation for a couple of online conferences this month, polishing the second draft of my second book and gathering ideas for my third book, at this stage a fragile bubble of an idea.
Looking at these three separate ideas, I’m observing both the influences from other writers as well as the experiences in my life which, although separate, have grown into connections, plots, characters, books.
A constant thread is my need for kind eyes – in writing and in life. Look at these characters, I want to say, look at what they’re going through. See how they suffer through their own unknowing or the circumstances they find themselves in.
It’s the same way I look at my friends, my family, my community. Look at these people, I want to say, look at what they’re going through. See how they suffer – she is worried about her widowed mother in another state, he is not happy in his job, she is lonely after her divorce, he is at a loss as to how to parent his child, she weeps at being separated from her children.
And there are always the smaller moments, my favourite ones to write and observe. Look at my character, see his joy at playing basketball with his daughter – this moment is everything he thought parenthood would be.
Observe my friend – she is tired, her work is overwhelming, she doesn’t have the energy to go grocery shopping for her family, her hair is greying at the roots (that hair I once braided for her in Year 8) but see how she lights up when her child sidles up to her for a cuddle and see how he smiles when she whispers she has a bolognaise sauce to defrost from the freezer.
See my fifteen-year-old girl character, see how she banters with her bestie on the way home from school and steals a chip from the greasy box from the fish and chip shop.
Look at my friends, this couple – watch how she beckons him in a crowded room with her eyes, see how he smiles, walks towards her, places his hand on her hip, see for a moment their younger selves.
Look at them with kind eyes – see them all.