Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Writer's Job

"This is bear fur," Becky said, as we waited in Alessandra's van outside her mother's house, also the house Alessandra grew up in, for her to return from delivering medication, and speaking for a moment to her brother, who cares for their mother. The clump of fur was attched somehow to the dashboard, and I touched it, brushed the back of my fingers against it.

It was exactly how I knew bear fur would feel: rough, thick, dry but water resistant. "How do you know what bear fur feels like," she said. And I tried to explain this, although I don't know how successful I was, but I told her "That's my job as a writer. To have already anticipated everything that might be, to have already translated those sensory experiences."

It sounds huge, impossible, and maybe overly self-confident, but that's what I love about what I do. Even if I don't know the truth, even if I've never really felt bear fur before, I can imagine what it's like, and if I say it in a way that you also feel it, understand it, can visualize it, what difference does it make?


Mom said...

That was Frederick's job, too, remember? And all the other mice were in awe of him and depended on his preserving and remembering the warmth of the summer colors to get them through the cold, dark winter.

Witold Fitz-Simon said...

"everything that might be" ???