In John Gardner’s Becoming a Novelist, the author names two kinds of writers. One is fascinated by their own inner world, crafting characters as they appear before them. I think of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway — the complex inner-life of a woman receiving the world like she’s casting a net into the sea and is more interested in how the net does its snaring work than in what she hauls in.
In photos of cows and pigs, I began to see sentient souls looking back at me. I would lose my breath at the beauty I had never known to look for in “livestock.” I felt myself peering into the eyes of a goat and searching for a language other than English in which to communicate, a language that has nothing to do with words.
Like books, blog posts plunge me into a perspective different than my own, but in a way that is immediate, a compact chunk of text to absorb while taking the bus to work, multitasking during a Netflix binge, or sitting on a park bench during my lunch break. The great posts divert me from my comfort zone, helping me see myself, my community, my life, in new ways, sending me back into my day with a subtle shift in perspective, a gentle (or not so gentle) nudge to keep chewing on this new idea.