poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Naots

writing a novel – wearing red shoes

with 10 comments


So the poet has decided to write a novel…


Title: unknown

Working Title: unknown

Setting: an abandoned church (in part)

Characters: main character a writer (not a very successful writer) who spends a lot of time at some other creative endeavor, loves to wear red shoes

Plot: unknown


Almost five years ago, I went shoe-shopping in Halifax.  This sounds OK until you realise I have only been shopping for shoes about eight times in my adult life (I’m 58).  I buy shoes to last – sensible, good leather, well stitched, usually Clarks but occasionally Naots.  I was started on this path by my Aunt who said I should only ever wear the most comfortable shoes available.  She often brought me a pair of Clarks after one of her visits to England.

Since those days, I only wear sensible, very comfortable shoes.  I also wear one pair of shoes for everything.  Since I retired in May, I have been wearing sneakers most often, but my leather shoes go with me to church, work, university classes, writing workshops, botany excursions, walks on the beach, everywhere.  Mud or hardwood floors, it’s all the same.  Friends have made fun of me for overwearing and outwearing my shoes.

At the shopping trip in Halifax, I bought a pair of sensible Naots and these have been my everyday shoes ever since.  But that day, I also fell in love with a pair of red leather Clarks.  They were a little tight, but I thought, they’ll stretch.  Five years later, they havn’t stretched because I’ve only worn them about three times.  They are too small.  My husband says I was a fool to buy a pair of shoes too small, even if they were a beautiful red.

So, if I can’t wear my beautiful red shoes, my main character in my book will wear them instead.

Red shoes.  A use of symbolism to support an underlying theme.  In the The Wizard of Oz, the 1939 film, Dorothy wore ‘ruby slippers’ to get back home, where she desperately wanted to be.  In the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, 1900, Dorothy actually wore silver shoes!

the passage in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz where Dorothy gets her silver shoes

In Hans Christian Andersen’s rather macabre fairy tale The Red Shoes, an enchanted pair of red shoes causes a girl to dance to her doom.  Early in the fairy tale, she gets in trouble for obsessing over her red shoes while wearing them in church.  There is also a 1948 film, The Red Shoes, based on the fairy tale, about a ballet dancer who is torn between wanting to be a ballet dancer and wanting to be with her lover.

two books of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen

In my novel, my main character will want something desperately (not to get to Kansas, or to dance, or to be a dancer, but something important to her).  Her red shoes are a symbol of her willingness to face all sorts of consequences to achieve her goal.


Copyright   Jane Tims   2012

%d bloggers like this: