I’m a close-up writer. My words become magical (to me at least) when I home in on the minutiae and take the broad canvas entirely for granted.
I’m not likely to describe weather or landscape, but I might discuss the qualities of a cup of tea.
I live close-up, right here, right now, in this moment, in this space; I don’t know any other way to live, and I struggle to find another way to write.
The husband talks about writing as if every short story, every comic, every novel is a movie playing in his head, and I think he’s right, but his movies are vast in scope and scale and mine are not. The husband talks about pulling back for the long shot, but I’m not the sort of person who looks out of the aeroplane window to a patchwork of fields and forests, of towns and villages, spread below. Put the husband in a column of men marching along the Great Wall of China and he’s in the helicopter hovering above; do the same to me and all I can see is the pimple on the back of the neck of the man marching in front of me. Put the husband at the heart of a royal banquet and he can see the full length of the table and out into the room, he can see everything from the guests to the place-settings, from the centre-pieces to the art on the walls, from the food to the waiters; all I can see is the vulgar way the man next to me holds his knife.
The husband builds up gorgeous layers in his writing. He can shift viewpoint from the intimate to the global and beyond with consummate ease. He can also deal in time, working stories over years, decades and centuries, where as I tend to think on smaller timescales. I tend to deal with minutes or hours at a time, sometimes weeks, seldom months.
I don’t know whether I’ll ever acquire the sorts of skills that the husband possesses, as a writer, but I wonder how much that really matters. Perhaps it is just as interesting to examine things through a microscope as it is to look at them through a telescope; after all, one of the great wonders of being a writer is that no two of us are alike.
And with that thought, I really must get back to squinting at things... Now... where are my glasses?