Friday, July 23, 2010

No Nature Girl

A few years ago, in one of my monthly newsletters (now morphed into The Goodweather Report blog,) I posted a closeup picture of a rather attractive fuzzy caterpillar, calling particular attention to his cute little pink feet.

As always, I had some email comments on my newsletter and there was a memorable one from my agent who took exception to my calling the caterpillar feet (or, indeed, the caterpillar) adorable.

In fact,  my agent's response was so  amazing that I  copied it to a file where I keep ideas for future use. And when I came to write Under the Skin, I used the response pretty much verbatim. putting it into the mouth of Elizabeth's sister Gloria who -- like my agent -- is no nature girl.

In the following scene, Elizabeth and her sister are at the beginning of a spa and seance weekend -- rather against Elizabeth's wishes.
--- As we walked up the path leading to the inn, I stopped by a high-arching clump of grass to admire a fuzzy yellow caterpillar teetering at the end of a glossy green blade. He had reared up and his tiny pink feet – the front six of them – were questing in search of their next step.
                        “Glory, come look at this guy and his adorable little feet!” It was worth a try, I thought. I’ll learn to love Dead Sea Salt exfoliation and maybe Gloria can get a little appreciation for Nature.
            My sister leaned down to see my find, wrinkling her nose in fastidious disgust. “Adorable? Those creepy little feet? If you killed that thing and stuck it with pins to some sort of board and looked at it under a microscope, you would see that those feet are anything but ‘adorable’ – they are vile little buggy mutant feet that look really gross close up.”
            She glanced at her watch. “We’ve got forty minutes before dinner – you can stay and visit with your yucky little friend; I’m going to go have a bath.”  ---


The butterfly pictures are for my agent -- she thinks butterflies are gross too. You can imagine how she feels about snakes.

But that's one of the revelations about writing -- if one just pays attention, there's a whole world of interesting material out there!
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23 comments:

Alexis Hallum said...

I think caterpillars are cute and butterflies are lovely.
I love the excerp...it made me laugh!

estaminet said...

Reminds me of a great quote by the artist Albert P. Ryder I read the other day: "‎Have you ever seen an inchworm crawl up a leaf or a twig, and then, clinging to the very end, revolve in the air, feeling for something, to reach something? That's like me. I am trying to find something out there beyond the place on which I have footing."

Callie said...

Sad that some people find the natural world so disagreeable. I'm very glad I lived on farms and learned to love nature before I had to live in a cement and asphalt city. The beauty of nature is still there in the city, but you have to look harder to it.

Liza said...

I like the excerpt!

Being that I like to think of myself as a nature girl, I am taken aback by your agent's lack of awe and connectivity. My hair is blowing back right now.
Wow!
Caterpillars have feet.
I'll wrestle her on that.

Martin H. said...

Let nothing go to waste, even a reaction to the pink feet of a caterpillar.

I think it was Alan Bennett who said he got many of his best lines from overheard conversations on buses.

Pat in east TN said...

Loved the excerpt too!

I find caterpillars quite interesting and butterflies beautiful ... I think of nature's bounty the only thing I'm not fond of is snakes.

Brian Miller said...

nice. thanks for letting us see one of hte places you pull your inspiration...i agree there is a lot out there if you are looking...

Star said...

I love all things nature even the creepy ones. Your pictures of the butterflies are absolutely gorgeous and the excerpt was cute and funny.
Blessings Star

Jean Baardsen said...

I was walking up and down our long driveway for exercise this morning, and there was a rabbit out feeding. He watched me pass by several times and wasn't frightened by my presence. I was flattered by his trust! I think caterpillars are cute.

Vicki Lane said...

What a great quote, estaminet! Perfect!

I should make clear that I love my agent -- in her way, she's every bit as adorable as the caterpillar. She can't help it that she's a born and bred city dweller.

Martin -- I always carry a little notebook to record overheard conversations.

Vicki Lane said...

What a great quote, estaminet! Perfect!

I should make clear that I love my agent -- in her way, she's every bit as adorable as the caterpillar. She can't help it that she's a born and bred city dweller.

Martin -- I always carry a little notebook to record overheard conversations.

Merisi said...

*giggles*
Wonderful story!


One of my daughters slept with a pink caterpillar, its -adorable or not - feet hidden in little shoesies. ;-)

Deanna said...

Caterpillars are fascinating. Butterflies are majestic. And your city girl agent is a riot. I've read two of my Elizabeth Goodweather books. I enjoyed them both immensely. Thank you!

Oh, I do agree with your agent about snakes, though. Eeeek!

Markin said...

"I always carry a little notebook to record overheard conversations."

What I refer to as a "portable mind". I may not be a writer, but I'd feel lost without mine ...

Mario

Liz said...

"The Hungry Caterpillar" was one of my twins' all-time favorite books when they were little boys! They are definitely not "yucky"! As always, your photos are memorable, Vicki. Thanks for the excerpt - we are patiently waiting.

cristina said...

Very beautiful picture!

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Vicki, Lovely butterfly photos of several types. I imagine you found them in your great garden. Interesting that you get ideas from nature for your books. -- barbara

Friko said...

I have just spent 20 minutes in front of a bush, knee deep in a bed of nettles, shooting and shooting and shooting endless photos of bees and butterflies on wildflowers.

Does that make me a nutcase or a wildlife admirer?

Friko said...

I have just spent 20 minutes in front of a bush, knee deep in a bed of nettles, shooting and shooting and shooting endless photos of bees and butterflies on wildflowers.

Does that make me a nutcase or a wildlife admirer?

Vicki Lane said...

Glad you enjoyed them, Deanna!

Markin -- I always think of my laptop as my 'brain in a box.'

Soon, Liz, soon!

Grazie, Cristina!

Yes, Barbara, the butterfly bush pictures are at the lower part of our farm -- the coneflower is up here. And nature is really a continuing leitmotif in my books -- kinda has to be, what with Elizabeth being a farmer.

What's wrong with that behavior, Friko? Nothing at all!

Vicki Lane said...

Glad you enjoyed them, Deanna!

Markin -- I always think of my laptop as my 'brain in a box.'

Soon, Liz, soon!

Grazie, Cristina!

Yes, Barbara, the butterfly bush pictures are at the lower part of our farm -- the coneflower is up here. And nature is really a continuing leitmotif in my books -- kinda has to be, what with Elizabeth being a farmer.

What's wrong with that behavior, Friko? Nothing at all!

NCmountainwoman said...

Gorgeous photographs. Thank goodness there are still Nature Girls like you around.

Tipper said...

You already know I love catipillas-butterflys-grasshopper. I also loved the excerpt-I can just see the sisters rolling their eyes at each other.

I'm just learning that indeed ideas for writing are all around me if I just listen-and remember to write down the ideas!