Friday, October 12, 2012

The Gift of a Writer's Eye

I came across the following story in an old Highlights Foundation publication squirreled away in my files from way back in 1996 and, I think, worthy of sharing. It's a quote from Patricia Broderick. It goes like this:

"...I submit to you that writers see differently. They see the everyday world differently than do others...This is a story from the Chicago Daily News:

I've heard of the problems newly retired men and their wives face when confronted by too much togetherness, and I was always amused at the way they so often get on with each other's nerves. I never thought I'd face such a problem, but it's been two months now and matters around here are pretty bad. I ran out of patience that first Monday. There we were, the two of us. Dave busied himself by following me around, inquiring into my household routines. I tried to be pleasant, but my surly nature surfaced when he asked, 'Why don't you vacuum all the way under the bed?'

I've tried to interest him in any number of activities with little success. I've even shouted the merits of daytime TV. 'What you really need is a job,' I told him, knowing he'd never be able to find one at his age. Yesterday was typical. Dave and I spent the morning together as always now. He sat looking out the window for a while, sighing intermittently. Then he came into the kitchen. 'What are we having for lunch?' he wanted to know. This was at 8:30. We went lockstep to the bedrooms, where he watched me make the beds. To his query, 'What should we do now?' I snarled, 'How about a duel with sabers?' A lengthy discussion followed of my system of sorting wash. I don't like to sort wash, much less talk about it. The situation is getting to me. You'd think someone with so much intelligence, someone I truly love, would not be so totally annoying when faced with a change in routine. Oh, well, my problem won't last forever. Next fall Dave will be in kindergarten.

"My wish for each of you is that you view the world with the gift of a writer's eye every day of your life."--Patricia Broderick

Have a great weekend! May we all nurture the gift of the writer's eye as we go...

p.s. Speaking of viewing the world with the gift of a writer's eye, here's a link to a great writing opportunity. Ladies' Home Journal is sponsoring a Personal Essay Contest (here), "Tell Us About The Day That Changed Your Life." They say, "Ladies' Home Journal is a community that shares stories--and we're dying to hear yours. For our second annual Personal Essay Contest, we want to hear about a memorable moment in your life--the day, or the hour, or the second that changed everything. We urge you to be poignant, reflective, funny. Make us howl with laughter. Make us blubber in our cubicles (we can take it!)." Top prize is $3000 and the chance to have your essay published in the Journal. Deadline: Dec. 7, 2012.

(Thanks to my friend Lanita who passed this along.)


  1. This story sounds like one my mother always talked about. When men retire and invade a woman's routines. I had a very different experience. I retired, and was suddenly at home all the time, invading my husband's space. (Not that he does housework, and so on.) But invading the kitchen at lunchtime. I wondered how he would respond to seeing me spending so much time working on my writing. Does he feel neglected? I don't think so, but he does submit that "I have to work." That means, my new job is to help him move farm machinery almost every day. I don't mind. Having the freedom to spend almost all of my time on my writing, instead of all the weighty responsibilities of being a children's librarian (purchasing decisions, keeping program attendance high), is pure relief. I do wonder if he can completely fill his time with flying and tinkering around at the airport, when his retirement day comes. But that's not for another seven years. Meanwhile, this is our life.

  2. I read the Chicago Daily New article out loud and my husband laughed. Regarding the vacuum comment about not going all the way under the bed, he said, "That sounds like something I would say." So I'm guessing we'll be there in another 20 years :)

  3. Cathy, sounds like you had the reverse of what we normally think of when we say retirement--your husband having to adjust to you being home! Great that he supports your writing, tho. That's the important thing :-) I was concerned about "my writing time" when my husband retired, but the reverse proved true. I'm writing more because of his support...

    Jess, glad you enjoyed the piece. Sounds like you've got a long way to go before you have to face the retirement question, tho :-) I enjoyed this story because of the way the author led us to think she was looking through other eyes--a wife with a leisure husband now at home--yet the twist at the end was so different. Quite the surprise. Loved it!

  4. Too funny! My husband has worked out of our home for many years, and my job allows me to work at home about half the time. SO - we have spent a LOT of time together. My husband used to say (about his parents) that they were "sharpening each others' wits." I think that's a pretty good description of what happens when togetherness gets to be too much of a good thing!