Greg Digneo wrote a post called The Brain-Dead Simple but Astonishingly Effective Way to Become a Better Writer, and when I read it (as you should do now) a passage that has stuck in my mind all these years came lumbering up the crooked passageway of my memory to smack me over the head.
Charles Dickens and his influence on me from beyond the grave
A good few of my eureka! moments involve Charles Dickens, and this passage is one that made me write. It’s a very simple idea but described so intricately by him that … it just gunpowdered all over my mind.
The Echoing Footsteps
I was surprised that I found this passage so easily – search term was: tale of two cities description about the sound of footsteps -, and slightly disappointed that it’s so famous.
I wanted it to be my secret. I wanted it kept to myself.
Read it out loud.
A wonderful corner for echoes, it has been remarked, that corner where the Doctor lived. Ever busily winding the golden thread which bound her husband, and her father, and herself, and her old directress and companion, in a life of quiet bliss, Lucie sat in the still house in the tranquilly resounding corner, listening to the echoing footsteps of years.
At first, there were times, though she was a perfectly happy young wife, when her work would slowly fall from her hands, and her eyes would be dimmed. For, there was something coming in the echoes, something light, afar off, and scarcely audible yet, that stirred her heart too much. Fluttering hopes and doubts–hopes, of a love as yet unknown to her: doubts, of her remaining upon earth, to enjoy that new delight–divided her breast. Among the echoes then, there would arise the sound of footsteps at her own early grave; and thoughts of the husband who would be left so desolate, and who would mourn for her so much, swelled to her eyes, and broke like waves.
That time passed, and her little Lucie lay on her bosom. Then, among the advancing echoes, there was the tread of her tiny feet and the sound of her prattling words. Let greater echoes resound as they would, the young mother at the cradle side could always hear those coming. They came, and the shady house was sunny with a child’s laugh, and the Divine friend of children, to whom in her trouble she had confided hers, seemed to take her child in his arms, as He took the child of old, and made it a sacred joy to her.
Ever busily winding the golden thread that bound them all together, weaving the service of her happy influence through the tissue of all their lives, and making it predominate nowhere, Lucie heard in the echoes of years none but friendly and soothing sounds. Her husband’s step was strong and prosperous among them; her father’s firm and equal. Lo, Miss Pross, in harness of string, awakening the echoes, as an unruly charger, whip-corrected, snorting and pawing the earth under the plane-tree in the garden!
Question to you, dear reader:
Are there passages in novels or poems or films that kicked you into creating something yourself in the past? What is it about painting that made you paint? What close-up was it that you saw as a child that made you know, instantly, that you’d be a film director someday?