I took two days off writing last week to read Anne Tyler’s latest novel Noah’s Compass. As she always does, she populated her story world with realistic common man characters. She excels at this. In each of her books, she drops you into someone’s shoes and lets you walk around their life for a while. It’s always a joy to enter and a sadness to leave. Part of me lingers there after I close the book. Part of the story goes with me.
I wish I had measured out my reading of this book in smaller portions to make it last longer. But now, I will read it again to study it. Anne Tyler has much to teach me. She writes the way I want to write. I don’t mean that I want to imitate her voice; I just want to create as believable a world. Like her, I write quiet stories about people you might pass on the street, ordinary people, living ordinary lives, so I must learn to make my writing extraordinary. Like hers.
She writes in plain language, befitting her characters, but she works a subtle magic with those words. That’s what I want to study. I want my stories to be deceptively simple. I want to you to feel it was worth your while to spend time in my characters’ shoes. You’ll enjoy the read, even though, when you think of it, nothing much happened … and yet, something did. You have a new insight, you learned some little thing, you came out the other side just a little bit different. Maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you feel it—a little piece of my life enriched yours.