Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It's the little things...

By: Kristi Hartman

I don't know how the weather is where you live, but here in Northern Colorado it feels like it has been snowing for days.  And days.  With temperatures dropping below zero, all I want to do is keep my head down in a freshly opened book and wrap my soft blanket around me. But, life happens and early morning school runs and errands always prevent this. 


A few days ago I was standing in my home, looking out at the snowy day in front of me.  I was struck by the blanket of white that covered the ground, as well as the overcast white sky with white flakes gently floating to the ground.  It was beautiful.  I then saw two jet-black crows swoop into the scene, and fly away as quickly as they came.  I wanted so badly at that moment to capture it, to lock it away forever.  The contrast of the deep black birds against the gentle white snow was breathtaking. It deserved to be memorialized somehow. My hands were aching to break out some brushes and paint the scene before it quickly faded away.  

I realized, however, that even though I didn't have a camera handy or my messy oil paints at my beck and call, I could log it away in my notes or journal, to possibly use in my writing.

Over the last couple of years I have tried to be a little more aware in life.  More aware of the way things look or sound or smell.  How can I help my readers to experience the story through their senses?  Sometimes it's so easy to go through our daily lives, and forget the wonder of the stormy weather, the beauty of the plant next to the kitchen window, the soft clapping of the leaves on the trees, the gentle noise of a door shutting softly, the satisfying clacking sound of a closing plastic case, the achieving sound of fingers on the keyboard, typing away all of our ideas.  

How can we more fully experience the little things?

After I had made it a goal to try to be more aware, I felt like my eyes had been opened to more beauty around me than I ever noticed before.  Just a few days ago I couldn't help but grab the camera to take a picture of the striking pink and purple sunset just outside my bedroom window.  The colors were so beautiful, and I thought how lucky we were to be able to see these things occurring naturally right before our eyes, every day.  

Having little ones in the home definitely helps to see the beauty in the little things.  Kids are notoriously good at appreciating and noticing the small stuff.  
Almost every day last summer we saw wild bunnies hopping around our neighborhood, and every single time my kids would squeal and smile with delight, then watch in awe as they hopped around. It never got old for them.  They enjoyed and appreciated it every time. 
But seriously, is there anything cuter then a little bunny running down a sidewalk??  


Whenever I am reading a story, I love to be able to feel the story.  I want to know the sights, sounds and smells the MC is experiencing.  I want the author to show me what's going on.  By us looking for our own little things to appreciate in life, we can try to log these away for future use in our stories to make them vibrant, rich and oh-so-visual.

What do you do to notice the small things?


  1. How beautiful and how true your words are! This is something I seem to have come naturally to me- I have always really appreciated those little wonders and beauties around me, probably because I have an artistic personality. In fact, I love taking long drives (especially if someone else is driving) just because I love to see everything around me. I remember favorite spots along routes I traveled as a kid, just because I thought they were beautiful. I still feel that way- there is a swamp I pass every day when I take my daughter to preschool, and I think it is a magical place. In winter the water frosts over and there is long brown grass & cattails that grow along the edge. A family of swans just appeared there one day, and I used to get so excited to see them. There is also a beaver lodge out in the middle. I am the absolute worst driver in fall and spring because I am so giddy about seeing the beautiful leaves or flowers- one of these days I will crash, and it will most likely be in the fall when I'm ogling all the trees!

    I love how you said you can memorialize these things through your writing- I need to do more of that, and then incorporate it into my work as you suggest. Finding the words to describe in the indescribable will give my creativity a good workout! :-)

  2. I think we tend to notice the little things that matter to us most, too. I have a tendency to overlook some of the most obvious things in the world, but I LOVE watching people's tics and tells, so when I write, that's something I have to include. I'll never notice what they smell like, so I have to remind myself to add in senses, for instance, and even then, I miss stuff. That's one of the benefits of critique partners...and posts like this. To remind me to notice more of the little things. :)



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