For Friday, November 6, 2015:
” … [A] book will remain what it has ever been: the most intense, private form of communication between two minds. This special bond invests the act of reading and the act of writing with passion. Inevitably it becomes a love affair or its opposite.”
Rita Mae Brown, STARTING FROM SCRATCH: A DIFFERENT KIND OF WRITERS’ MANUAL
As a child, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by books. Both sets of grandparents had shelf after shelf after shelf filled with books in their homes, and almost every room in our own house overflowed with books. I grew up feeling like these personal libraries actually hugged me, so much so it was almost a physical sensation. What a blessing!
Everyone on both sides of my family were and are strong readers. Thanks to their example, their reading to me and their gifts of books, One of my earliest dreams was to have a book on someone else’s bookshelves someday. I also developed an early relationship — a love affair — with books and the written word that has grown exponentially over the years. Even when I was hurting or sad or angry, especially when I was lonely, I knew I could escape into the wide world of words that soon enveloped and comforted me, and I was transported, at least for a little while. That still works for the adult me, and my heart aches when I think of children who don’t or can’t grow up with that experience, that model.
It’s no wonder, then, that I essentially fell into writing. At first it was unintentional — especially at six years old, when I wrote my first poem — I was just doing what was normal. I thought everyone wrote something. Based on the reactions and responses of others, though, even family members, I soon realized everyone wasn’t a writer. At some point, though, I felt like I had a mission: I wanted to write, in part, so others could experience a similar relationship with books and words to the one I had.
Over the years, of course, there have been books and writings that were not as wonderful as the ones of my memories, but even those I didn’t like, or those I argued with or at which I got angry, made me think. Why was I angry? What did I disagree with? What did the authors want me to think or feel? Was my response what they wanted?
When I started writing for publication — even if it was an op ed in a newspaper (sometimes especially then) — I was just as thrilled with the readers who disagreed with me and argued with me as I was with positive responses. I had made a connection, established a relationship ‘between two minds.’ Someone took the time and cared enough to write to me, privately or in public, because of something I had written. I offered something that caused someone to, perhaps, consider a different way of thinking. Their response(s) made me think anew as well.
Maybe a reader changed his/her mind, maybe not, but there was a mutual connection. That is where and how the passion grows. A new relationship has begun. That, to me, is success. That is why I do what I do, and that is why I hope you can and will, too. I hope, too, that your own book — or its equivalent in another art form — will or does grace someone else’s bookcase to hug you and others.