My daughter and I were looking through some of her old school work and we found this picture. It’s part of a book she did called ‘I Love You’, and the kids were given the words ‘I love you as,’ then a space, then the word ‘as,’ then another space. It was up to them to fill in the spaces, then draw a picture above of the simile they’d made. The book was only five pages long but each page tugged at my heart, a lovely memory to treasure.
Now, I would like to clarify that I’m not really a fan of spiders. They have too many legs and move far too quickly for my liking, and several harrowing encounters with very large specimens when we lived in Australia simply cemented my dislike. I know they’re very useful and industrious creatures, spinning their silken webs to catch flies and mosquitos and other pests in the home, but I still don’t want them too close to me. However, I loved this picture and the idea behind it, plus I also thought it was a lovely simile.
This then made me consider the use of simile when I write (bear with me, I’m going somewhere with this, I promise!). I tend not to use a lot of simile when writing because I feel they can often stray into the realm of cliche, as well as take the reader out of the story if poorly chosen. I think, like some spices, they are often best used sparingly, just enough to add flavour and nuance to the story. However, they can also be the easiest and best way to convey to the reader what you’re thinking – the key is coming up with something that’s different enough to what has been written before. It’s a bit of a brain stretch and the tendency in mid flow can be to just chuck in the first thing that comes to mind and fix it up later – at least it is for me. So I loved reading this book. Each page felt fresh, the ideas coming from a child unfettered by deadlines or weight of prior knowledge – instead, just free to think about how she loves someone and how best to express it. So next time I’m searching for the perfect way to describe how a character looks or feels, perhaps I’ll ask her instead.
PS. As I was writing this, the gorgeous child and I were horrified to see a huge, beautiful tree across the road from us being dismantled branch by branch and removed. It was in our neighbour’s garden and part of the view from my study (spare room) window. I loved to watch it, the way it moved with the wind, the sunset through the branches as it changed with the seasons, magpies chattering and roosting among the leaves. But now it’s gone. I don’t know why – maybe it was diseased, maybe it was dropping branches, maybe they were just tired of looking at it. But there is a hole now in the sky, and a sadness at its loss. My daughter sang as it went, both of us unable to watch as the final limbs were lopped and removed. I know it’s only a tree, but it made us both feel a little strange, watching it go.
Gosh that’s how I feel about trees too! I dont know if you saw my post about trees (think it was the first one). There used to be a huge tree near where I live which had long ago fallen on its side, yet it was still growing strong, and all its branches pointed straight up to the sky. It was in a huge field which was never used for anything. I always admired it. This spring I drove past and it was GONE! Why? I was devastated! I’m so glad I got a picture of it before it was chopped up and removed. That field is still not used for anything.
Oh, that’s so sad about your tree, and the fact that nothing has come to replace it – such a waste! As the tree was being removed here today a Sky TV van pulled up and I had a horrible suspicion that the tree was going so they could get TV reception. However, I don’t think this is the case (I hope not, anyway) – still, I cannot understand why it had to go. Glad to see another tree aficionado though – I will go and check out your post xx
I know. There has been severe tree hacking around here this year, not just trimming, but cutting them down for no reason I can see. For some reason, it really bothers me.
Oh, it bothers me too! We need more trees, not less.
Oh, I hate it when trees go down – whether felled or fallen, if you see what I mean. It’s not only the beauty of the thing itself; it’s the shock that something so large and apparently permanent can just go.
Re spiders: you’d hate my new house. Did you see a programme called something like “The Spider House” recently where a not-quite-but-almost phobic presenter got to spend the night in a house crawling with them? Well, mine’s a little like that. It’s an education for the children, that’s for sure.
Love the sound of your daughter’s book. What a treasure to have! X
Oh, Louise, your spider house does sound a bit scary! Though I’m sure it’s lovely too 🙂 I suppose you’re a bit more rural now? I know when we lived more rurally we got many more spiders than when we didn’t. And bigger ones too!