Two sides to every story

 


  Ken and I have had a little break recently and one of our outings was to Flatford.  John Constable loved the countryside around there and painted it, I can think of  two of his pictures in particular, The Haywain and Flatford Mill. Rather more recently, our friends loved it there too, and had told us we must go.

So when we arrived we had expectations of being overawed by our surroundings. We walked down to where we could see the cafe, then turned left to walk up the lane looking at the outside of the mill. It is now a youth adventure centre but didn't really look like a watermill. We followed directions for an easy walk which turned out to be walking round one very large field with many picturesque sheep with their lambs - some baaing softly as they wandered the field or sought shelter from the hot sun beneath a copse of trees. Beautiful and peaceful, but nothing outstanding. We did visit Bridge Cottage where visitors are allowed downstairs. There were some great descriptions of what was happening at the time when one large family lived there, with the cottage furnished with furniture and utensils from the early19th century.

We went off to find some lunch and I confessed that apart from the cottage I was a little disappointed with what we’d seen so far. We decided we’d go back after lunch anyway, in case we were missing something. 

After parking, we were enticed into a small RSPB garden. This proved to be interesting, not because there was much that was unusual, but because it was a lovely scruffy place with nearly every tangled muddy mess or cluster of nettles clearly labelled for its usefulness to birds, insects or small mammals. We watched a newt under a lily pad, then wandered round recognising weeds we were fighting in our garden. It didn’t take long to realise that with the help of a little thought and a great number of name tags we could have a very satisfactory, or even amazing, wildlife garden ourselves.

With our spirits raised somewhat, we continued into the rest of the National Trust property, crossing over the bridge to walk by the river. And there it was - looking across the river we could see Flatford Mill from its working angle and although the waterwheel wasn’t visible, the water could be seen gushing down and the spirit of Constable was rippling towards us across the shimmering surface of the water.


The whole outing had become an opportunity to discover other points of view - everything was there but we missed it the first time. This is why I love reading and writing stories with two protagonists, especially if they are at the same event, but have different viewpoints. Or even when one protagonist has their viewpoint changed by circumstances or by a fresh revelation. If there is only one point of view the reader may have an incomplete picture, whereas two points of view fill in some gaps creating space for conflicts and misunderstandings.

These thoughts can include considering the relationship between reader and writer when shared words are always interpreted from different viewpoints. Both minds are imagining the same place or experience, often fictional, yet for each of them their own present existence and histories colour their perception. And if you’re not sure I’ve made a valid point, watch how many different ideas fly around a Bible passage is discussed in a group!

To me, that makes writing for readers a mysteriously wonderful and intimate gift from God.


Annie Try is a novel writer whose most recent novels have been published by Instant Apostle.  She is also on the leadership team of The Vine Community Church, Littleport. She is now working on her second YA novel.


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