Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hump Day Reflection

For a writer, one of the most amazing feelings possible is to see someone 'get' your work, to watch their face light up with comprehension as if some algebra problem has suddently made sense. It happens with fiction and non-fiction alike -- the person who is reading, or listening to you read, all of a sudden brain-shifts into a place which, if not exactly where you hope they will be, is a close enough analog to seem a small miracle.

Musicians have the benefit of re-interpreting and re-sharing their work on a regular basis, through live performance (my preferred way of experiencing music, by the way), but writers don't always have this opportunity. So often, we write, edit, polish then launch our words, sending them off to create the reader-writer contract on our behalf.

We can only hope that each time someone bothers to read our words, our words fulfill the writer side of the contract -- there is no opportunity to say a line out loud to make sure the emphasis is correct, or to read a passage with just the exact emotion we planned -- it all has to be there, and the reader must infer it and experience it without anything but the most vestigial sense of the writer on the page.

This is so hard, and the ability to get that vestigial sense of self onto the page (without bludgeoning the reader with our personality) often is what separates those who want to be published from those who will be published (among other things of course).

This musing comes from having shared two chapters of a work in progress the other night, and watching as the listeners shifted into that brain space -- all the listeners are talented writers, but for a moment, they forgot my request for a critique and instead inhabited that place where I as a writer had desired to take them. This is as close to a miracle as I have ever experienced, and I can honestly say that I lack the words to describe the feeling this gave me.

I am humbled and motivated all at the same time. Good place to be in on a Wednesday.

The final snippet: Let's not get all conflictual, here. (overheard in a meeting, where else)

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