Taking Another Look


I’m trying to explain the gist of Dancer by Colum McCann to my husband Eric when he sees it lying on the kitchen counter and asks what it’s about. ” Rudi (Rudolf to those of you who have not read this version of his life for McCann makes him feel like a neighborhood kid we’re all rooting for) Nureyev, but it plagues me a bit, books like this that ostensibly could be biographies, but….” Eric opens to the front flap and begins to read to himself.

And then he declares, “‘…boldly embellishing the biographical facts,'” So there you have it. That’s the rub. I want to know how much is true and how much is McCann. That will demand some research, but that’s not the point here.

He then reiterates “boldly embellishes” with a grin and says, “You know authors write their own book blurbs.”

“Really? I though those were written by the publisher”—one only hopes someone in- house has read the book well enough to be able to do that. When he investigates further, he finds out that BOTH ways of creating book jacket summaries are used. Colum McCann might actually have written his own description of his novel. I know most of you are probably thinking, “Duh, ” but this was revelatory for me.

Now the point of this post: how great a technique is it to write about oneself, one’s own creations, in the third person? What new insights might arise? How would kids react to doin that about their pieces for self-evaluation rather than “I” statements? Today’s post, for example:

She wasn’t sure that she’d be able to get a post together on this, the twelfth day of March, and of the SOL91 Challenge. She had toyed with several ideas, but none of them inspired her. Wasn’t it Ralph Fletcher who’d named that washed-out idea a solander, a container that seems to have potential but leads nowhere. It could’ve been though she’s not 100% certain. She remembers looking up that word, intrigued, and discovering that it’s actually defined as a hinged box shaped like a book for maps, charts, diagrams. Fletcher used it as something you opened—like a promising prompt—and found it empty. She’d had many solanders in her writing life.

You see where I’m going with this. Third person may be the key to those solander moments.

She may have to give this perspective a try.

One thought on “Taking Another Look”

  1. Third person does give a different perspective to writing. I liked to have my students write about an event in first person and then write about the same event in third. Interesting changes that made for good conversations.

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