Thanks for the quote posted today, TwoWritingTeachers! I finally have a writing topic! (trumpet fanfare in the background)
“Writers are outsiders. Even when we seem like insiders, we’re outsiders. We have to be. Our noses pressed to the glass, we notice everything. We mull and interpret. We store away clues, details that may be useful to us later.” –Dani Shapiro
This quote reminds me of this beautiful, hilarious moment captured by my dear cousin:
What is it about babies that draws people in? Being unbearably cute? Exhibiting behaviors adults suppress? Living in the moment? One thing every person has in common with every other person on the planet is that we were all babies. Not much else beyond that is exactly the same for each person. This is important because common experience connects us as writers to the world at large. To borrow Shapiro’s idea of writers being perpetual outsiders (with our noses are pressed to the glass), we are seeing, and I think, reflecting on what draws us together. Perhaps not the exact same experience or moment in time, but more of the humanity of that moment. The feeling. The expression. The attempts at connection. I agonized over Michael Brown and the community of Ferguson for many reasons. But I do not have that actual experience in common with anyone. I don’t live in Ferguson. I’m not African-American. I haven’t suffered injustice at the hand of others. I haven’t lost a child. I haven’t had my business destroyed. I haven’t worried about losing my job or protestors becoming violent. But in that writerly way, I imagined the tension and anxiety, I imagined the anger and frustration, I imagined the confusion, I imagined the fear- just by having my nose pressed to the glass and reflecting on what I saw and heard. Some people say that if you weren’t there, you don’t know. But I think that I do know something because, just like this sweet baby above is demonstrating, I took the risk of peering deeply into that moment with wide, open eyes, and I found that I am amazed by the courage, strength and resilience of my fellow human beings in those terrifying moments. Until today, I didn’t feel as though I had the right to share any thinking on Ferguson, but thanks to Shapiro’s quote, I am reminded that being an outsider isn’t a waste- it’s an opportunity to observe, reflect and then connect with those on the other side of the glass. I’m just beginning to do so.