Writers as Observers

Like it or  not, we have to spend time and energy being “watchers.”  Sandra Cisneros from The Writer inspired my awarenesses of being a “watcher.” Since I began my historical novel, Torn Apart, a couple of years ago. (Egad… already so much time), any people have approached me with their own stories of the horrific time in Europe during World War II.

This probably makes me a listener, as well. I live in a small town on the Pacific coast where it is easy to know your fellows. While tending to our small post office flower beds,  a woman I barely know stopped to tell me about a memorial service she recently had attended. The surviving son told  a story about his German grandfather who tried to surreptitiously move Jews from harm. Somehow the police learned of the plan, rounded up the man and his friends and shot them all in the town square. Another person was threatened to death and  his family also would be killed well  if he tried to rescue his Jewish neighbors .

My watching these days includes observing people in the grocery store, people walking alone or with someone, and any opportunity I find:  expressions  of sadness, joy, dislike, silent distaste, laughter are readily available for watching and listening. How many times have the words, “Why didn’t the German people stop the death camps?”  Those who did risked their lives and the lives of their families. I have to wonder what courage I might have had.

The poignancy of human lives whether in a world war or in their daily lives provide story ideas for the writer. We are bombarded when we tune in. Are you a watcher or listener?

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