Looking and Seeing

Seeing is a relative thing. A blind person may see things better than a sighted one simply because eyes can’t be depended upon to provide a mental image. Instead the object or view must be experienced to be fully observed.

That’s one reason why I sometimes write with my eyes closed – so I can put myself into the midst of my words and “see” the person or the scene more clearly in my mind.

I was reminded of this yesterday as I read Sandra Heska King’s post entitled “Deep See Diving” in which she said, “Lately, I’ve been prone to wander off the path to see. To see deep. To deep see dive. Seeking. Wondering at the mysterious and the marvelous. Finding joy in the sacred.”

Like all artists, writers must see deeply to produce their best work, but it doesn’t end there. I believe Christian authors have an even greater need to search beyond the surface.  That’s where God builds the foundation of our life story, one brick, one thought, one prayer at a time.

It’s too easy to live each day immersed in trivialities, oblivious to the significant. Instead, we must search beyond the obvious to discover the real story waiting to be written, both on the page and in our lives.


Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

24 thoughts on “Looking and Seeing

  1. Love this, Carol! I’m in the process of researching my next novel. I keep asking God, “What message do you want to share through this story?” I know he has a plan and he’ll let me know! Then my job is to weave that message through without it sounding preachy. I want it to be seamlessly woven throughout, to be a natural outflow of my characters’ growth processes. I’m still learning how to do that!

    1. That seamless weaving is a challenge. For a long time the obvious preaching in so much Christian fiction turned me off reading it. That you are asking God’s guidance in this is a good indication that your stories will never fall into that trap!

  2. There’s a quote in “What a Writer Needs” about fleshing out the tiny things to symbolize the big things.

    Like a grandmother, insane with rage, snipping all the roses out of the garden she planted with her granddaughter.
    The sound of that snip, snip, does more to show that rage than showing a long, winding paragraph about her pent-up past.

    Hope that makes sense!

    1. I love that example, Patti. Such a great example of the “show, don’t tell” admonition! Often the little actions can convey more than a lot of description. That’s when getting into deep POV really pays off.

  3. learning to observe is a necessary skill for writers. So much of what we do is interpreting daily life for others so that they can make meaning in the pain or triviality. Of course along the way, we find we are making meaning for ourselves, too.

    1. Well said, Kelly. As we incorporate our observations into our stories I’m not sure who benefits more… the reader or the writer. As Jody has suggested, though, interpreting what we’ve learned and conveying it without trying to ram the message down a reader’s throat takes skill.

  4. Thanks so much for the linkup, Carol. I just realized that I often write with my eyes closed, too.

    And I love your closeup image. Amazing what we can miss if we are immersed in trivialities.

    And what Patti said about the snip, snip, snip. I felt that!

  5. I am a Christian writer, but I was born into a family that was not. This was not an advantage to me in my Christian life, but it provided a deeper understanding of people that could not understand me. I deeply love many who love me, too, but do not understand me. I understand them. This is a help in writing realistic characters and creating plots and subplots that do not alienate the reader. Thank you for your post, Carol. It made me think.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Carol Ann. Part of our responsibility as Christian writers is reaching out to others, helping make the Word meaningful in a loving, palatable way. I can see how your life experience would be a big help.

    1. Thanks, Jeanette. So much of our lives are lived in an “everyday” kind of way, full of routines that we follow without much thought. It’s important to break out once in a while, at least mentally, and see beyond the mundane.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Travis. Thinking in the shower wouldn’t work too well for me. We’re on a well, and I’d end up standing there lost in thought while emptying the well of all its water! But I get your point. In addition to having your eyes closed to remove visual distractions, the water would provide “white noise” to remove audio distractions as well. It’s a great idea. 🙂

  6. Another thing that helps me see deeply is to quieten my mind and enjoy the silence between the sounds. Sometimes this isn’t as easy as it sounds and it helps to concentrate on your pulse, then follow it as it travels through your body. After a few moments of doing this, when I return to my story, I’m more attuned to what’s really happening. I love when that happens.

    1. That might be a little like meditation, finding something to focus on and stripping away all extraneous thought. I love the idea of “silence between the sounds”. What a beautiful phrase!

  7. Carol, beautiful post. Thanks for the link back to Sandra’s. There’s a reason we call it “insight.” True seeing is a product of inner understanding as well as surface looking.

  8. I love this post Carol—the “one brick at a time” made me think. No wonder you are such a great writer—–you are absolutely right—we have to “see” it before we can describe it. I had a friend who had been blind from birth. He became a doctor. One day we were talking and I expressed sympathy for his “loss of sight”. He reminded me at times he could “see” better than I, because his other senses were much more keen than mine. How true—
    blessings to you my sweet friend

    1. I imagine those who have been blind since birth would have highly refined other senses that help compensate. But I wonder if those who have lost their sight later in life adapt as quickly or as well. I don’t know.

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