When The Narrow View Widens Out, It Becomes Universal

The Narrow View | iPhoneography by Jann Alexander © 2016

The Narrow View | iPhoneography by Jann Alexander © 2016


Behind the camera lens, you’ve got a choice. Your view can be narrow, focused on one thing. Or you can widen out your view, to capture and reveal more.

That’s the way my writing lens works, too—I’m learning that as I go, now that I’m heavily invested in my second novel, a family saga spanning three generations. (How can I stay narrowly focused with subject matter like that?)

Like a view demanding a photo, there are stories that demand to be told. I don’t know many writers who can resist the lure of a story that commands them to write it. Isn’t that the way we all decide what to write? We all start with a fascination, something that won’t leave us alone, an observation or experience that’s finite but irresistible to us. Then we build on that to widen out our scope and find why it matters to us. And as it turns out, what matters to us will likely matter to others, too.

When the narrow view widens out, it becomes universal.

The Wide View | iPhoneography by Jann Alexander © 2016

The Wide View | iPhoneography by Jann Alexander © 2016


The truest story is what really matters to us. And really, so many things that matter to you, or to me, or to anyone are universal—and even if not universal, anything that matters will still have its supporters.

This is why the nagging voice asking us, Will anyone want to read this? is the one voice to be ignored. When we’re driven to tell a story, it comes from something real that others can relate to, as well. As long as we’re sharing something we’ve come to understand, its premise is wide enough to encompass others, too.

Like painting, designing, blogging and making photos—my other creative pursuits—my best work always comes from a place deep within, when I get to what I feel passionate about, or love, or abhor, or am moved by, or have experienced emotionally. That’s what feels most honest to me when I’m writing. Sure, I’m writing from my vantage point, and while that may begin as a narrow one, I won’t succeed if I don’t broaden it to find the universality of it.

Do you feel the same way about your creative craft?

I borrowed from The Daily Post‘s Weekly Photo Challenge—narrow—to share these thoughts and images. Inspiration finds us in many ways.


Jann Alexander's A Habit of Hiding_Book Cover

What do you think of the viewpoint in my new novel? 

Read an excerpt from A Habit of Hiding here

For more on the art of writing, look HERE.


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