E. L. Doctorow once noted, “Good writing is supposed to evoke a sensation in the reader – not the fact that it’s raining but the feeling of being rained upon.”
Like the one below by Jean George, a New York writer, a master of sensory writing.
After a winter storm several years ago Jean was asked to check a friend’s Long Island beach house while the friend was away.
Jean expected to find a ‘dreary scene – an abandoned cottage set among pines, stirred by mournful winds.’
But the instant she climbed from her car, she found a world of harsh beauty, discovery and sensory delight.
The air smelled clean as I looked on a brilliant landscape. The sea was a violet blue, the sky turquoise, and the beach, which the last summer had sloped gently, was not steep, scooped out luminous. Crabs scurried for burrows and gulls spiraled down on them, like paper airplanes against the sky. At the water’s edge, empty shells that whisper when summer waves turn them now made shrill, whistling sounds.
She saw a couple walking hand-in-hand. The man leaned down and wrote something in the sand. She smile at his age-old act, the epitome of transience: romantic declarations written and so quickly erased by the sea. Not so.
When she came upon his sand message – one word only, his companion’s name – the erosive winter waves were sweeping it, etching the letters more sharply and deeply until they fairly shouted their permanence.
They will be there forever, she thought … or at least until the next high tide.
What a beautiful story and how beautifully and simply it is written.