Last fall, I was reading over the final proof of Glaciers when I came across the passage in which my heroine's love interest drinks coffee from a mason jar. I paused, eyes focusing on the words: mason jar. My mind went back to when I started the book, in the winter of 2003-2004. Some of my Powell's coworkers used mason jars with lids in place of Nalgene bottles and aluminum travel coffee mugs (I assumed that, like me, they preferred drinking from glass). I flashed ahead in time to my friends at Dove Vivi, who have been serving water at their tables from vintage quart jars since they opened in 2007 (along with the tasty corn pizza [YUM—eds] and the endearing thrift store assortment of forks, it was one of the things that made me fall in love with them). But by the time I was reading that final proof of my novel, it was 2011, and I had recently dined at two new Portland restaurants in which I was served water in wide-mouth pint Ball masons. I had mentally added them to the list of all the other cafés and restaurants and brewpubs in town already using jars for drinking glasses.
I stared at the page of my novel and thought, "This isn't a unique character trait anymore." In my mind, Glaciers takes place during Bush's second term, but it's not explicit. I just had a feeling it would read differently to people now. I tried to think of something that could stand in for the mason jar. Then I thought about cutting it. I didn't want this character to be a cliché of Portland trends.
She goes on to explain why she decided to include the jar after all. And sure, it seems like a trivial detail, but I picked up on it in my review, as did the Willamette Week.
Smith was on Think Out Loud this morning—you can listen to the segment here, if you missed it.