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Joel Arnold

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Member Since: May, 2010

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Blogs by Joel Arnold

Perspective
11/8/2010 2:27:44 PM

Before we had kids, Melissa and I drove down to Rochester to visit my parents and attend a Christmas concert at the local community college. I was the one behind the wheel. It was early evening - the sun had already set, there was snow in the fields, but not on the roads - and at one point two eyes appeared in front of us reflecting our headlights back in a greenish-yellow glow. It was a doe, standing right there on Hwy 52. I slammed on the brakes, spat out the word 'Deer!' and braced for impact. The poor thing didn't have a chance.

Time slowed down drastically. I remember so many vivid details; the deer bending at an impossible angle, its head veering toward me, mucus flying from its eyes, nose and mouth onto the windshield. It rolled off the hood, and then there were headlights in our rear-view mirror and I braced myself again, thinking we might be rear-ended. I remember sitting there for a moment in the SUV on the highway, realizing I'd better pull over, and then Melissa and I talking about what we were supposed to do. Where had the deer gone? Did we need to drag it off the road? Were we supposed to call somebody?

I got out of the truck, and couldn't find the doe at first, but then there it was, back a ways, having rolled off the highway's shoulder and down a shallow embankment.

It wasn't until I walked back around the front of the truck to leave, that I noticed the damage. We were lucky, I suppose, that the airbags hadn't deployed, because the front of the SUV was pushed in a good half-foot, the hood bent up in the middle, the radiator badly dented.

Later, I found this to be kind of strange - that I hadn't noticed the damage being done to the vehicle at the moment of impact. A lot of force had been in play to push in the frame that much, to cause that much damage, but all that I had focused on at the time was the deer in slo-motion, head lolling toward me, mucus exiting its eyes, nose and mouth, spraying onto the windshield.

Here is what I've taken from this; a good lesson for writing about perspective.

What parts of a scene should our writerly lens focus on? What parts should be slowed down and examined in detail? What parts should be glossed over, or perhaps revealed in hindsight? Perhaps revealed at a later critical time?

The damage to the truck was not as important as the way the deer died, or at least how its death affected me in the moment of impact. The damage to the truck was more of an afterthought - an annoyance, sure, but not the focus of that particular scene in my life. It was, instead, the slow motion death of a sentient creature and the vivid detail of the mucus springing from parts I did not expect it to spring from.

The truck remained functional. We continued on to my parents', to the community college's Christmas concert. Somehow, the music made me forget, momentarily, of that slo-mo impact, that moment of shock and disbelief and bewilderment and the too-easy acceptance.


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More Blogs by Joel Arnold
• The Sucking Suckathon of Suckiness - Monday, May 21, 2012
• Mississippi Pearls and a Car Biding Its Time on the Ice 'til Spring - Thursday, December 29, 2011
• One Decade, One Story - or how One Thing Leads to Another - Wednesday, December 28, 2011
• Racing Minnesota-style! - Wednesday, December 28, 2011
• This Here Minnesota Horror Author was a Big Old Scaredy-Cat - Thursday, December 22, 2011
• Jack the Blob Killer - Monday, December 19, 2011
• Death Rhythm - Tuesday, September 20, 2011
• More Writing What You Know - Monday, September 19, 2011
• How I Interpret 'Write What You Know' - Wednesday, August 03, 2011
• Blessings - or - What I write after having one too many... - Wednesday, August 03, 2011
• 120 Miles in a Canoe - Monday, June 27, 2011
• On Stephen King - Thursday, June 23, 2011
• Why Horror? - Wednesday, June 22, 2011
• Zen & the Art of Swearing - Friday, June 10, 2011
• If Coffee Shops were Run by Airlines - Thursday, May 12, 2011
• Trying to Figure Out What Scares Me - Monday, March 21, 2011
• My Confession - Tuesday, March 08, 2011
• Going Indie with my novel Northwoods Deep - Friday, March 04, 2011
• How I Envision Conflict When Writing - Thursday, March 03, 2011
• Wall Drug - why it's one of my favorite places - Wednesday, February 02, 2011
• Jonesing for a Road Trip - Wednesday, February 02, 2011
• Snowmapocalyptopalooza - Tuesday, February 01, 2011
• How Do You Remember? - Thursday, January 20, 2011
• When your parents are librarians... - Tuesday, January 18, 2011
• The genesis of a novel - the first 6 days - Tuesday, January 04, 2011
• Searching for Truth - Characterization - Thursday, December 16, 2010
• Control - and a little more about Northwoods Deep - Monday, December 13, 2010
• Bukowski - Wednesday, December 08, 2010
• Flies, Flies, Spam, and Flies - Friday, December 03, 2010
• Naivete and the Young Writer - Thursday, December 02, 2010
• For Writers looking for some Adventure - Wednesday, December 01, 2010
• My usual rider for family/friend appearances - Tuesday, November 23, 2010
• Writing and Me - a dramatization - Wednesday, November 17, 2010
• Writing Tip o' the Day (now with vitamin C!) - Tuesday, November 16, 2010
• The Power of Music - Tuesday, November 16, 2010
• To All the Bookstores I've Loved Before - Monday, November 15, 2010
• The Care and Feeding of Writers - Sunday, November 14, 2010
• Rudiments - Thursday, November 11, 2010
• Writing Tip o' the Day - Wednesday, November 10, 2010
• Tragedy - now with 50% more pathos! - Tuesday, November 09, 2010
•  Perspective - Monday, November 08, 2010  

• The Daunting Dauntiness of Tweeting on Twitter - Saturday, November 06, 2010


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