Award-winning author
Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

03 June 2009

Writing lesson from a baby squirrel

Sometimes illumination comes from unusual sources.

Such as baby squirrels.

I was eating my breakfast when something scritched at the sliding glass door next to me. A baby squirrel stretched high on its hind legs, peering in and scratching as it tried to get through the glass.

I turned toward it, and it skittered away. Seconds later, another baby squirrel burst from the herb garden. The squirrels were clearly newly out of their nest. Over the next few minutes I laughed at their antics—Taking a flying leap into a clump of oregano, running up a porch pillar, looking through the glass of the breakfast room door, chasing a baby rabbit that came onto the patio.

The squirrels’ antics brought to mind Charles Gramlich’s recent thoughtful post on Razored Zen, “Perception and Creativity.” He pointed out the value of writers experiencing the world from a unique perspective and taking steps to develop new ways of experiencing.

The squirrels suggested to me that it’s also valuable to look at the world with no perspective at all, with every thought and action aimed at discovery. What would it be like to land stomach first in that soft, aromatic plant? What would happen if I ran toward that long-eared animal? Does that purple puff smell different from the green stalk? Do I want to eat it? How high can I climb?

The squirrels ignored the sunflower seeds I put out for them and kept playing, reminding me that exploring and making sense of this world—or one’s fictional creation—should be a process of joy.


Coming soon:
•I know what it means to miss New Orleans
•My (former) town Monday: Aquarium of the Americas
•A cover for Like Mayflies in a Stream
•Interview with DeAnna Cameron, author of July release The Belly Dancer


Charles Gramlich said...

I think squirrels are kind of cute but don't tell Lana I said that. They eat up all our bird seed.

Good point about just imagining such experiences. The experience of sensation is the key to all descriptive writing

Michele said...

Aww, that picture of the baby squirrel cracks me up! I've only seen the fully grown ones before. LOL

And yes, all good points about using our senses to uncover/discover the world around us. Thanks for the reminder.

Farrah Rochon said...

That's gotta be the cutest squirrel I've ever seen. They have them all around my place, but I never see cute babies.

I always have to go back to put all that sensory material into my writing. It's so important.

Looking forward to your report on New Orleans. I know what it means to miss it too.

Barrie said...

I enjoyed this post. and the photos ;)

Shauna Roberts said...

The experience of sensation is the key to all descriptive writing. Thanks, CHARLES, for providing a better conclusion for my post.

MICHELE, I have to admit I found the baby squirrel picture on the Internet. I was having too much fun watching my squirrels to go get the camera.

FARRAH, in the almost two years we've lived here, I've only once seen an adult squirrel in our yard. So I was quite surprised to discover we now had babies.

BARRIE, thanks!

Barbara Martin said...

The baby squirrel is very cute.

Creativity comes wherever one finds it, to be sure.

Shauna Roberts said...

BARBARA, you hit the nail on the head. Take it where you can get it.

Lana Gramlich said...

The baby squirrel is cute...for now. He will surely grow up to be yet another rat bastard, I'm afraid... ;)