Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary – A Novelist’s Desired Trait

Be A Novelist

I blame myself for not often enough seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Somewhere in his journals Dostoevsky remarks that a writer can begin anywhere, at the most commonplace thing, scratch around in it long enough, pry and dig away long enough, and lo!, soon he will hit upon the marvelous. I tend to believe that, at least most of the time.   –Saul Bellow


I suppose you could consider the above to be a double quote. It is Saul Bellow quoting Fyodor Dostoevsky. Perhaps that means it is doubly-rich. It’s certainly a rich vein of ore to be mined in our mind arena. (Don’t you love my play on words?)

The ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. For myself, personally, I covet this talent, this trait, this ability.

Ancient Story

The idea of having eyes to see the extraordinary brings to mind a story from the Hindu epic, The Ramayana. Rama and his two brothers were trained in archery by a great master. One day the master said to them:

“You are now ready to be tested as marksmen.”

He took them to a clearing in the forest and showed them a tall tree upon one of whose branches was a beautiful colored bird. To the first brother he said: “Stand to the mark, take aim, and before you fire, tell me what you see.”

The first brother said: “I see the tree and the bird.”

The Master said: “Stand down.”

The second brother stood to the mark, took aim, and said: “I see the bird on the branch.”

The Master said: “Stand down.”

Then Rama stood to the mark and took aim. The Master asked: “What do you see, Rama?”Be a Novelist

Rama answered: “I see the blue feathers on the neck of the bird.”

 Ah yes, to have the sharpened sense – the heightened awareness – to see the blue feathers on the neck of the bird. In all the aspects of life, we as novelists must be able to see the blue feathers.

Atrophied Imaginations

In our daily lives we are assaulted day and night by audio impressions, visual impressions, and subliminal solicitations. We see everything; we hear everything; but we perceive too little. We reflect too little. When that happens, imaginations can become atrophied for lack of use.

It requires a concerted effort to see – and recognize – the extraordinary in the ordinary. It requires a concerted effort to see the blue feathers on the neck of the bird.Be A Novelist

Difficult? Perhaps.

Impossible? Never.

We can do this.


Be A Novelist

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Tiger Beetle at Kendallwood is now in paperback

Books in this Collection are Clean Teen Reads

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