Window cleaners are hard at work today, riding ropes up and down my building, taking away the residue to city life. I used to be uncomfortable with their presence. My discomfort came from a combination of fear for their lives (as they dangle hundreds of nauseating feet above the ground) and a social awkwardness with their presence just outside of my personal space.
But after having lived in a highrise for a few years I became familiar with their presence. I can even envy their role. I imagine the freedom they must feel, suspended above the earth, swinging and cleaning with no fear that their boss will be hovering over their shoulder.
Now when I see the window cleaners instead of looking away I spend a few minutes in their world. I wonder if they are rock climbers with day jobs and how it feels when a bird flies by at eye level. And even more importantly I wonder if they have any insight into how I should arrange the furniture in my living room…after all they will have seen so many other options.
A window is a portal to another world. A rectangle of information that can lead us to a story. Alfred Hitchcok’s movie Reader Window tells the story of a man who watches his neighbours. His point of view and personal experiences colour the things he sees and his imagination takes flight. For this exercise, let your imagination tell you a story about the world behind a window. You can let yourself be inspired by a real image in a window (the coffee shop you pass every day on the way to work or a department store window being set up for a sale) or an imagined scene. Watch the world through that window for a moment and then imagine the circumstances that led to that point in time, or that will soon follow. Why are the people there? What are their goals? Where will they be an hour from now?
If you are having trouble imagining a scene, take your inspiration from the one below. Aim to write 500 words on the world you discovered.
Imagine that you are sitting in an appartment, looking out the window when a scene catches your eye. You weren’t intending to spy on a neighbour, but a flash of light catches your attention. Across the street a rectangle of light, an illuminated window, shows you a woman stumbling into the room. She throws something overhand that hits the wall and falls out of view. Your eye, drawn in the direction of the projectile notices a figure barely visible in the adjoining bedroom. The figure appears tense and moves to the door but instead of opening it, whoever it is pauses pressing thier back to a wall. What will happen next?