by Julia Buckley
I once had the pleasure of hearing noted educator and psychologist JoAnn Deak speak about learning, especially the different ways that boys and girls learn. In the process of her very interesting lecture, she noted that one is generally a Tree person or a Forest person. (You know the old expression, "You can't see the forest for the trees?"). Deak suggested that Tree people saw the little details within the forest of life. Tree learners focused on the minutiae and therefore could potentially obsess over them. But tree learners also saw valuable details that others just didn't see.
I was thinking of this analogy the other day as I struggled over the writing of a paragraph. I think that writers, too, might evaluate themselves as either Tree or Forest artists. I think I might be a blend of the two, but I would have to say that I veer toward Forest. For example, I have never wanted to lose myself in a long description. In general I feel that no matter what I am describing, one or two sentences will cover it nicely. And yet I enjoy losing myself in the very long descriptions written by other writers: beautiful, evocative descriptions of setting, or long, wordy, wonderful discussions of a character's appearance. Fun to read, but never something I'm tempted to write. The more I write, the more concise I find my writing becomes. It's not really a conscious choice that I make; it's just the way I write.
If you buy into the Tree/Forest analogy--that is, that you are either a detail person or a big-picture person--which sort are you? If you're a writer, do you see the influence of this on your writing?
And, last but not least, Happy Memorial Day! Special good wishes to all veterans and families of veterans on this important day.