When you write a book about an extraordinary woman in an ordinary world, you think a lot about perspective. I think about perspective because of artist Andrew Wyeth, who is an expert in changing our perspectives, and my three-year-old grandson, who is an expert in surprises.
For example, I noticed that my Up There cover of a woman walking up a hill and reaching for the skies had the Wyeth-vibe of his remarkable 1948 painting, Christina’s World. That painting, which is housed in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), epitomizes yearning to me, and when I look at the cover of Up There, I feel heroine Ariel Lee’s yearning and her desire to rejoin with the wind and skies.
Once again, I thought of Wyeth when I was writing the scenes where Ariel takes to the skies and rides the wind. Long ago, I saw Wyeth’s painting, Soaring, in the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. This 1950 work is large, dark, and some say unsettling because of its perspective, but I loved it from the moment I saw it. It depicts three vultures flying above the Pennsylvania countryside. This is truly a bird’s-eye view of life below and in the air. This, I thought, is what Ariel sees as she soars the skies over her Minnesota farm. This is how free she feels but also how lonely she is since she cannot share her secret that she was born with the gift of flight.
If Wyeth reminds me of the wonder of perspective, my grandson has taught me that perspective isn’t a hard and fast thing. In the woods, he carefully pets mushrooms and fungi as if they were soft cats. He has a toy giraffe named Llama and a stuffed llama named Llama. Shades of the old Bob Newhart show: “This is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl.”
Perspective. It can keep us locked in place, or it can turn our world upside down, inside out, and wonderfully new.
Thank you, Mr. Wyeth and my grandson. You have taught me not to let my perspective get too hard or heavy that it keeps me from flying on the winds of imagination.
Up There is the story of a woman who talks and plays with the wind. It is available in paperback and eBook. This post is a “Story Behind the Story” of Up There. Find other inside peeks into my work in On Writing.