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Picturing a World

Clearing the Clutter (4): Writer in library

Oddly enough, I remembered this watercolor as "Lady Pole in Her Library." Nope, the artist was Thomas Pole, an American transplant to Bristol, England, a doctor and Quaker preacher—no titled lady involved. Still, you know me: it's all about using images to prompt story ideas. And quiet as it is, In the Library has some suggestive clues.

Start, of course, with the lady busily writing. Her gray attire may be due to Quakerism, but that never occurred to me when I first saw it. I was thinking more along Jane Austenish lines of eldest daughter escaping social duties to follow intellectual pursuits. Now, retain the library and garden view, but substitute some other writer: Same period, older woman?  Modern researcher on a fellowship in a Georgian house and garden museum? More aggressive and disgruntled woman in a red dress? Servant sneaking a chance to make out a spy's report or leave a note for a lover? Fantasy writers, would you make her a witch?
Change the time period: Go earlier and imagine a woman quietly writing at a window in the Tudor era. What changes in mood as well as physical detail would be required? Ditto earlier still (medieval or, heck! classical lines in Roman Provinicia). Make it later: bring it to the present or out to a future on a space colony under a dome on Mars. What presumptions about the society and physical culture would necessarily follow?
Back to the image itself: Under the bookshelves, what are those round frames? If they are mirrors, what are they reflecting? How could they be used in a story?
Look out the window: Is a gardener about to amble past, another sign of an ordinary day in the woman's life; or is someone exciting about to burst onto the scene, coming up the long walkway a quick stride? Is she waiting for him or about to be taken by surprise?
Is the main character the person is at our vantage point? Someone who is spying on the woman or watching the garden walk?
If this were a myriorama, what cards might join it to left and to right?
Or is this a watercolor on the wall of a woman writer, a source of quiet reassurance or momentary relief when she looks at it? I know my simple pleasure in its gentleness and symmetries, its hint at a garden outside and the lady's absorption inside are what made me save it. If it gives you a burst of inspiration for a story, good. If it makes you smile to yourself, that's more than enough.

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