Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
I loved reading Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I was young when I picked it up, maybe seven or eight. I remember thinking it was a massive read, that it was going to be something hard for me to understand. I remember being immediately transported into this fictional world. I also remember reading this book beneath my covers and never wanting it to end.
Looking back, it's the story of how the seeds of a writer are planted, how they germinate or wither, how they take up residence in a writer's life or die. The notebook that is the subject of much of the novel, is an early version of a writer's notebook, the kind of repository that feeds our creative juices and helps us to sort things out. Reading Harriet the Spy helped me to understand the difference between recording what I see (images) and recording my opinions about what I see--something best left to the work itself. It's the story of how dangerous the life of a writer can be, of all that is at stake in doing what we do.
The novel taught me that there is a price to be paid for doing honest creative work and that, at times, that price can be painfully high. After reading this, I never regarded writers and other creative artists in the same way. I knew they were some of the bravest folks on the planet.