"Always be on the lookout forthe presence of wonder."
E.B. White is most commonly known for his children's books, but he was a prolific writer in a lot of different areas. He inspires me because he dabbled in many different types of craft, and he was both a literary and commercial success by any standards.
Fun Facts about E.B. White:
- Real name is Elwyn Brooks White
- Lived 1899-1985, and died at his farm house in Maine that inspired Charlotte's Web
- Attended Cornell University, where he worked for the school newspaper. Later wrote for The New Yorker.
- Hey, English majors, remember that pesky Strunk and White book that was the bible for stylistic writing? Our friend E.B. is the White in that equation!
- He was shy and reclusive
- His granddaughter, Martha White, compiled a book of his greatest quotes.
I love Charlotte's Web. It inspired my novice love of spiders, which led to my keeping black widows as a teenager. They would hatch lots of babies, cannibalize each other, and be otherwise fascinating and beautiful creatures. But I digress...
NPR has a fantastic article about White and the real Charlotte and the real barn that inspired the story. It's personal and moving, and you should check it out HERE. But the part I love best is this:
"One early fall morning in 1949, E.B. White walked into the barn of his farm in Maine and saw a spider web. That in itself was nothing new, but this web, with its elaborate loops and whorls that glistened with early morning dew, caught his attention."
He simply noticed something different. That's what led to him writing one of the most acclaimed children's books of all time. A lovely, unassuming moment in nature caught his attention.
I've been thinking a lot lately about refilling our creative wells. Even with unlimited ambition to succeed, sometimes we all burn out. I believe that one of the few things we control as writers--and one of the things that makes us so awesome--is a never-ending curiosity.
So, my real "so what" is this: go for a walk. Explore an abandoned building. Visit a place you've never been before, even if it's seemingly small or inconsequential (like a barn). Take time to breathe. And above all, "always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder."