In an essay by Joan Didion that I go back to again and again, she writes: “there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space.”
Takes a certain flair with language to successfully turn a stereotype on its head. Writer as bully? Aren’t writers quiet/thoughtful/maybe even reclusive? I’m not talking Emily Dickinson here, but it does take a certain standing back to get the job done. Actors and musicians, on the other hand, strut their stuff in the presence of an audience.
And, yet, those Didion-esque words do give me pause as both writer and reader. When we make a decision to sit down and read a book, we demand that it grabs us.
It’s risky business, being a writer. From the choice of what moves us to write to the ways in which we do what needs to be done to get people to pay attention, we gamble with our skills. As I move into the final stretch of a campaign to get a novel near and dear to me published, I have nothing but gratitude for every vote cast (and those still to be cast). Wherever the chips fall, as of now Just like February is hot and trending on Kindle Scout; for at least a day it claimed the #1 spot and I had the presence of mind to take a screenshot. I’d be a fool not to share it, along with one more pitch before the campaign comes to an end next week.
From “Why We Tell Stories,” by Lisel Mueller
Because the story of our life
becomes our life
Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently
and none of us tells it
the same way twice
Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them
and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story
with the word and