Saturday, June 9, 2012

Entry # 69 - "Looking Closely at the Writer's World"

Praying (for rain) Mantis - Photo by Jan Bowman  - 2012

This week I have thought about how the writer must learn to look closely at the world.  I was reading some work by a budding, unpublished writer and noticed the attention to detail that brings the fictional world to life.  To look closely at everything is one of several essential elements in effective writing.  I don't think this means the writer must describe every detail.  That can become tedious, but I do think being aware of the real world allows a writer to move beyond the tangible into the ephemeral, in much the same way that a painter looks and then selects.  

I took a walk in my little garden yesterday and I was struck at how quickly change can occur.  Weeds were everywhere. And I noticed an interesting praying mantis.  It's a bit early for them, but we've had an early spring here in Maryland.    So look closely and see if you can see the praying mantis in these two photographs.  And I wonder - would people be as likely to see it if I had not pointed it out.  Once we know what to look for - it's somehow easier to see a thing we might have missed.

Look Closely - Photo by Jan Bowman - 2012
I am happy to say that modern medicine is amazing when you think that two weeks ago I was laid low by a bout with pneumonia and I have almost fully recovered from my illness. SO I will be away at a writers workshop next week, and have given myself permission to skip a blog entry next week if things are too busy.

I found this poem that I like about a praying mantis.  Looking closely at the world adds to daily pleasures.


                                               by Robert Francis, (American. 1901-1987)

If you have watched a moulting mantis
With exquisite precision and no less
Exquisite patience, extricate itself
Leaf-green and like a green leaf clinging
Little by little, leg by leg
Out of its chiton shell, you likewise know
How one day coaxes itself out of another
Slowly, slowly by imperceptible degrees
Of gray, and having fully emerged, pauses
To dry its wings.

Jan Bowman’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, Broadkill Review, Trajectory, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes, and others. She won the 2012 Roanoke Review Prize for Fiction. Her stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best American Short Stories and a story was a finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories and currently shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction work pending publication in Spring 2013 Issues of Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at:


  1. So glad you are completely back to good health!!!

    Love this observation, pictures and poem. I did see the praying mantis, what fun!

    Enjoy the workshop.

  2. Hi and I am happy you liked this entry. These entries are fun to write. I am back home and although I am tired physically, I am all set to revise my newest story and bring it to a new level of possibility. AND I intend to post a new entry next week. Thank you for reading my blog and responding with your own insights. That's what writers do. They share their thoughts. Best Regards, Jan