Shoes: The Window to the Soul?

Chris Shoes2

My current favorite and most comfortable “wear everywhere” shoes.

You can tell a lot about a person by his/her shoes. Yes, it’s a snap judgment, a tiny thumbnail of a much more complex picture of heart, mind, and soul.  But still. I like to study people’s shoes, especially writers’ shoes, because I am always fascinated by their choices.

Rebecca's Harry Potter Shoes 005

Rebecca made these to-die-for shoes for her daughter!

Many are comfy, worn in, perfectly molded to the wearer’s foot. Some are impossibly clever, showing off hidden depths of talent (see Rebecca’s Harry Potter shoes). Still others are fancy, or quirky, or bold–shining with character and originality.

The mistake I make is wishing I could wear them all. (Warning: shameless use of metaphor ahead!) At our annual agency retreat, we do readings of works in progress. Even as I listen in awe, I lapse into melancholy over the display of talent. My brain declares: “I could never write like that!” (Or in Metaphor Land: “I could never pull off those strappy three-inch spike heels! I’d trip over my own feet!”)

Tam's Shoes

The lovely Tam’s purple sneakers

Mylisa's Shoes

Mylisa’s smart, sassy heels

And so it goes: Why aren’t my topics more edgy and why don’t they matter more? Why can’t I write with that much honesty? Why don’t my adjectives sparkle like that? Why can’t I be that original and important and WORTHY?  Why, why, why?

The truth is, there are too many kinds of shoes in the world to wear them all. But some shoes suit us so well! Others we have to try on and walk around in for a while before they feel like a good fit. And some we’re just not meant to wear. But that’s okay. Our shoes writing should reflect the unique, fabulous message that only we have to offer.

Jenn's Spiderman Shoes

These kick-butt Spiderman shoes were Jenn’s favorite growing up

It took me a while to come to terms with this. I devoured ghost stories as a kid. I loved mystery and adventure. Maybe, just maybe, I could even write my own mysteries when I grew up. When high school pulled me away from the books I loved to read Important books, I was devastated. Partly because I thought it meant I had to leave my favorite books behind, and partly because so many of those Important books were so dang bleak.

Chris Shoes1

The costume party platform shoes. I know, right?

Yes, we must stretch ourselves, read everything, learn, grow, discover, rise up, reach out, all those things. But if there is no passion behind the things we write about, no love, no personal truth, then what’s the point? There, I said it. My personal truth is writing about things that go bump in the night. Maybe there’s a deep psychological reason behind it. Maybe I just enjoy books that send a shiver up my spine.

Megan's Shoes

Megan’s killer boho sandals

I certainly don’t think that writers should limit themselves to just one type of “shoe.” What a ho-hum world that would be! In fact, I bought a pair of vintage Italian platform shoes for a costume party and ended up falling in love with them and wearing them out in public. Who knew? But there are certain types of shoes I will probably never buy or wear. (Anything with an animal print comes to mind.) And there are certain genres and topics that just aren’t for me. I have made my peace with it. Thank heaven there are enough writers and books and shoes for every possible occasion.

Chris Shoes3Right now we’re on vacation in northern Wisconsin. After a summer of line edits and working on a book proposal and ferrying kids around to endless activities, it’s nice to recharge and give my brain a rest. I can squish my toes in the sand, sink into the sound of lapping waves. Ideas come and go as they please, a gentle ebb and flow without the pressure of plot or  the structure of story.

Sometimes it’s nice to just go barefoot.


Lindsey's Shoes

Lindsey’s chic red shoes with pedi to match

Penny's Shoes1

Penny’s fancy shoes that are not as comfortable as she hoped

Penny's Shoes2

Penny’s super comfy writing slippers, with books as the perfect accessory!

Laurie's Shoes

Laurie’s honeymoon shoes, The Most Comfortable Shoes EVER

Amy's shoes

Amy’s funky-cute awesome sandals that I want to steal

Donna's Shoes

Donna’s versatile I-can-do-anything shoes



ChristineHayespic2 (534x800)Christine Hayes writes spooky stories for middle grade readers. Her debut novel, THE MOTHMAN’S CURSE, is due out June 16, 2015 with Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.


Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, craft~writing, Creativity, jealousy, Satisfaction, Writing, Writing and Life

19 responses to “Shoes: The Window to the Soul?

  1. Chris! I love this post! How perfectly sane for us to find writing that is comfortable for us and not try to do everything. Being comfortable with writing what we love to write is as important (probably more) than the shoes we love to wear.


  2. Christine Hayes

    Penny, yes, it’s all about writing what you love, or what has deep meaning for you. It may not always be comfortable, but hopefully it will always feel authentic. Thanks for commenting!


  3. You’re right. We can’t be everything. Sometimes it’s so hard to read a really beautiful book that I could never, ever write, because while part of me is immersed in the book, another part is standing back thinking “Oh no, I can’t do this…” And I have to very firmly remind myself, “No. You can’t do this. Because this isn’t your book. Go write YOUR book.” Side note: As a collective, we have darn good taste in shoes!


    • Christine Hayes

      Megan, it’s kind of comforting to know we each have a story that no one else can tell. And I agree about our shoe choices–such a stylish group!


  4. I love this post, Christine. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the same feeling–at the retreats, or just after reading an amazing story that I know I could never do justice if I tried to write it myself.

    Love all the shoe pics, too–and still lusting after Rebecca’s! 🙂


    • Christine Hayes

      Thanks, Tara. You have an incredible and fun middle grade voice, and I’m sure there are many, many folks out there who think: “That Tara Dairman writes characters with such wit and depth! I sure wish I could write like her.” 🙂


  5. It is so nice to share with another “shoe-holic “. My darling partner has what could be classed as ‘An over-reach to the world of foot protection’. Or, a shoe collection that exceeds normal.
    We have built a special shoe section with drawers that slide out like a Ferrigamo store, such is the extent and range of this fetish.
    Unfortunately my own collection is quite large also – it’s amazing the men’s shoes available now!
    I love the fact that writers can be classed within the bounds of the shoe apparel they choose. Makes we wonder about Jesus and his sandals, nice look but quite un-suited for the conditions – sand in the toes and all. A nice pair of Church’s brogue might have caused less irritation but I guess pain endurance was part of the journey.B


    • Christine Hayes

      Wow, fancy stuff, bristlehound. Sliding shoe drawers! And I love the symbolism that Jesus wore a humble pair of sandals as he walked the earth to do His great work. Thanks so much for commenting!


  6. Lindsey Lane

    Darn…I didn’t think barefoot was an option. That is totally my favorite pair.


  7. Rebecca Van Slyke

    I guess the best we can do is– no matter WHAT we write– to write with SOLE!


  8. Chris, It is such a balancing act–finding out own place while still pushing ourselves to try new things.

    Love that you’ve fallen in love with a pair of shoes that you just bought for costume.


    • Christine Hayes

      Hi, Mylisa. Yes, a balancing act, for sure. Sometimes new things help us discover previously unknown facets of self–but sometimes they just give us blisters!


  9. I love this, Chris! Shoes as a metaphor for writing styles and genres and heart. Brilliant!
    And, oh my gosh, I know what you mean about the awe of hearing or reading other writer’s works. I think that’s natural. But, rest assured, dear Chris, writers and readers are in awe of you, too.


  10. Christine Hayes

    Donna, you are a darling who always has a kind thing to say. Thank you. And there’s plenty of awe to go around! (Pointing at YOU, Donna Bowman Bratton!)


  11. I do love my comfy shoes! Great reminder to do what we do best while remembering to try on fun, different styles every once in a while (I wish I could post the picture of the shiny purple super-high heels my daughter and I tried on, giggling, the last time we went shoe shopping together!)


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