When you’re working on a novel, not writing is part of the writing process. At least that’s what I told myself today. It was a gorgeously mild and sunny day — Memorial Day; the park across the street from our house was filled with people biking, strolling, and listening to a military band that played for hours. (The music wafted across the pond: muted patriotism.) The kids were home from school, milling aimlessly around the house, and eventually I abandoned all thought of work and took them to a lake for the afternoon, where I sat in an Adirondack chair and read Anna Karenina.
Tolstoy’s exacting descriptions — his careful parsing of behaviors and attitudes, woven gracefully into the narrative — made me think of my own character, a 90-year-old woman with complicated responses to and relationships with everyone around her. From Tolstoy I am learning (re-learning; I read this novel once before, in my early twenties) how to give an omniscient narrator immediacy and warmth. And I wonder about the perspective I’m employing in my own novel-in-progress, alternating first-person and third-person limited chapters. Perhaps the third-person perspective should be broader? That would allow me to bring in other points of view — one in particular that I haven’t been sure how to convey. I’ll be thinking hard about this question of perspective in the coming weeks.