Friday, February 15, 2008

Snowflakes and Book Characters

Two words that were seldom, if ever, spoken in New Orleans, but are occasionally heard in Tennessee were announced earlier this week. Snow Day! These seven letters pumped joy into the hearts of school children and made me pretty happy, too. From experience, I know a snow day sure beats the heck out of a hurricane evacuation day.

Before moving to Tennessee, I had only seen snow a few times in my childhood and once in New Orleans (Christmas Day 2004).

Earlier this week, I was sitting at my computer watching the snow through my window thinking, this is definitely a new experience for me. Large flakes started drifting down and I put my coat on and went back outside in a flash. I held out my hands and caught snowflakes in my red gloves. For the first time in my life, I saw the shape of a snowflake. My first thought was, “Wow! It really does look like they say in books.” My second thought was, “I feel like Snowflake Bentley.”

If you are a children’s book writer or reader, you probably know that Snowflake Bentley is the 1999 Caldecott winning biography by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931) developed a technique to photograph snowflakes. He is the person who actually proved that no two are alike. This wasn’t a quick process. It took years of trial and error. Sort of like working towards publication.

Do you ever think of yourself as a fictional character, or in this case, a real live person from history, in one of your favorite books?


Sphinx Ink said...

First, I envy you the opportunity to see snow every winter you're in Tennessee. As you know, snow's very rare in New Orleans. I'd like to spend a winter somewhere where it's real winter for the whole season. (I have cousins in Minnesota--maybe when I retire I can freeload off them for a season, eh?)

Re your second point, I've often imagined myself as some of my favorite fictional characters. Mostly Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice) or the eponymous Jane Eyre. I don't tend to imagine myself as a real historical person however--feels too much like body snatching. Besides, if the person was real, I'd feel confined to the reality of that person's life, whereas with a fictional character I can make up whatever I want, even beyond the book in which the character appeared.

Interesting topic!

Farrah Rochon said...

Wow! A snow day. The kiddies must have loved that!

As for imagining myself as a fictional character? I can't say I have. I have wanted to visit the places I've read about, so maybe I can say I've wanted to step into their shoes.

Shauna Roberts said...

With some books, I can get into the character enough that I feel like I am them . . . sometimes to the extent that when I'm half asleep or just waking up, I think I am them instead of myself.

Snow is beautiful, but it can also be deadly. I'm happy to be somewhere without it.

Tom said...

Snow! Fun to play in, but horrible to live in. Been there, done that. If you have to live in it, you eventually grow to hate the stuff. If all you have to do is play in or on it, then it is great stuff. White, fluffy, heaven sent joy, or...Icy cold, sent from the Devil, white death.
As far as getting into characters, that is one of the joys of writing, is to live vicariously through the people you create. Whatever you wish you could be, or do, just write it into a character and watch it come alive. Neat stuff. I find myself thinking during the day of how a favorite character might react to situations I find myself in, and sometimes wish I could react as they would.