Getting close

In her review of the film “Hemingway and Gellhorn” in The Monthly, Helen Garner describes a moment in the film where photographer Robert Capa says to Martha Gellhorn, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”.

This is great advice for writers. It is so easy to stand back, at a safe distance. So much harder to move in, closer and closer, until you are right inside your own body, writing slowly and carefully about the details that make a moment or a person or a thought or a feeling worth writing about. Up close you can capture the breath of a sleeping child, the dust on an autumn leaf, the fear in the mirror.

This is where writers need to be – very close indeed.

By the way, Garner pans the movie!

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