My ten-year-old daughter told me she was in the school’s elevator the other afternoon and couldn’t remember whether she was supposed to press L for Lobby or 1 for the first floor. While the elementary school is micro-small, the schoolhouse was built over a 100 years ago, with the gymnasium and kitchen on the second floor. A number of years ago, the town opted to put in an elevator for public access, and, hence, my child with her buckets of compost in the elevator. The door opened… and she found herself looking at the first-and-second grade class.
She said, Ooops! and explained her predicament, before swinging the door shut and continuing on her school chore way. The teacher told her, Well, it’s nice to see you.
What a lovely surprise my daughter must have been behind those doors, a bashful smiling girl. Working out the plot of this second novel is like opening doors in my characters’ lives: what now? Too many times in our lives, the opened door isn’t necessarily a smiling girl with a bucket of lunch compost. I’ve often thought, What fresh new hell is meeting me now? But in fiction (as, I suppose, in life), opening a door means the unspooling of a new thread of story, and I try to remind myself, Greet that opened door with some moxie of optimism.
The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration — how do you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory, about becoming someone else?
–– Rebecca Solnit