September 30, 2010


I’m always surprised at how little we seem to know ourselves. Recently, someone e-mailed me to say she was amazed that I accomplish all that I do. A flattering comment, if getting a number of chores out of the way is worthy of praise. What amuses me is so often a remark of that kind comes from a person who is busier than I. The woman who e-mailed me, for example, couldn’t be more like me than me. She puts out a newsletter, has a part time job, runs a horse stable and has two novels in progress. In addition, she edits other people’s scribblings, mine included.

Writers pose an exception to my belief that if we wish to know ourselves, we should take an inventory of our friends. Writers consort with people both alike and different from themselves. The greater the variety the merrier, in fact. A world view obliges one to go beyond one’s natural habitat.

Truman Capote is an excellent example of someone who strove to extend his range. His non-fiction novel “In Cold Blood” took him six years to write and during that time he got into the heads of two brutal murderers, came to understand them and even saw their humanity. Sister Helen Prejean repeated the experience in “Dead Man Walking.  Equally remarkable is Harper Lee who wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird, a white woman who explored the plight of a black man accused of murder in the south. One could argue that Lee was recreating a world she knew, but to get into the mind of “Boo” Radley, a recluse who was considered a misfit, took some doing.

It occurs to me as I create this blog that the world might be a better place if all of us strove to think like writers. If we examined the differences among us with a desire to understand rather than to judge, then religious conflicts might be abolished, the gypsies might be allowed to dwell where they liked, and the Hutus and Tutsi might live together without fear. Yes, one could do worse than think like a writer.