So I was talking with my daughter yesterday about some of the differences between where I grew up and where I live now. I grew up in the desert Southwest (though my early years I was bouncing around – my dad was military), in a small New Mexico town. Now we live in semi-rural Pennsylvania, and the topography is more than a little different.
I was trying to describe to her the first time I saw fireflies. I was seventeen, and vacationing in Illinois at the home of some old family friends, when they all came out at dusk. I was blown away. I’d heard of them, of course (except, I think they called them ‘lightening bugs’ instead of fireflies) but to actually see one – let alone a whole yard full of them – was honest-to-God just a moment of magic.
I stood out there in the middle of that yard, catching fireflies and staring at them in wonder until my parents called me in the house (more like forced me into the house) and I still, to this day, thrill to the sight of fireflies.
So after our conversation, I sat down with my manuscript and I realized I’m missing something. Jessa has this tremendous, magical thing happen to her and while she’s suitably freaked out and off-balance by it, she’s not really inhabiting the wonder of it all. I started trying to find ways to shade that, paint it in, let it surround her. I worked on making her a little more reflective about it all – not enough to slow down the action, mind you – but she should take a beat or two to really, really feel it all and be amazed by it more.
You should never let magic go by without breathing it in a little.