I'm working very hard to learn to see better. No, I'm not getting new eyeglasses. But I've learned since I slid over from the very bookish world of a school library into the more creative side of my brain that I'm much too literal. It's hard work to see things in a different way. I know, I know, sometimes a rose is just a rose. But then there are those days when you need to think of "what if" over and over until just the perfect scene comes into your story. And that's when it pays to have an artist on the other end of your emails. And if she's an artist who also writes, all the better.
So I've been missing my friend Leslie Guccione's sage advice. Her ability to point her writing students in new directions and tell us what we're missing, where to look next for a character or a plot point. I've also been missing her funny, funny stories this week. Leslie's husband died of the most terrible disease, ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. Joe and Leslie were a perfect couple, devoted, encouraging, loving to each other.
Yesterday as I walked on the beach, I remembered when they visited us and we laughed that Joe was bringing his foul weather gear to the Gulf of Mexico. Didn't he know that Florida in the early spring was nothing like the coast of Massachusetts, where his own boat was moored? Leslie and I rolled our eyes. But Joe had the last laugh. The day we ventured down the canals, Joe was the only one warm enough to enjoy the trip. The weather had turned and the wind was blowing. Nothing like New England. But nothing like Florida either.
I'd never seen beach glass until I visited their beach. Now I walk and hope I'll find a tiny specimen on our soft white sand. Yesterday I thought I had. Turned out to be just a clear-as-glass jingle shell. I picked it up anyway. I stared at it and thought about how it might fit into a story. How the perfect round shape might mean something more than just a shell found on a walk on the beach. I know Leslie would create a history of how many times it had been trampled upon, and by whom. It would be a funny story, characters who love each other but fight just the same, flawed, as characters should be, but so worth the telling.