Sunday, November 19, 2017

Same song, different day

Just now, I heard a song that I've heard hundreds, maybe even thousands of times. And for the first time I understood that a word I've always heard as "pain" is almost certainly "paying."

Either word works in the context of the song, and we've long been accustomed to not catching mumbled or slurred lyrics, or not understanding them even if we do (such as the neologism "pompitous" in Steve Miller's "The Joker," or the entire song "Whiter Shade of Pale"). But it still makes me marvel whenever I discover something new in something old, when I finally get a reference that always floated over my head before, or when I see the familiar in a whole new light.

One reason I like to reread is that I like to see how works change as I understand them better, and as I grow and change myself. Some works lose their luster over time; others gain. Nothing is static, even when the words themselves don't change. Society changes; we change; our tastes change. One work of art can bring multiple experiences.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The reader-writer conversation

I read for the moments when I can say, "Yes, that's exactly how the world is, but I never thought about it before!" And for the moments when I say, "Yes, that's what I've always said to myself, but didn't know if anyone else felt the same way!" And for the moments when I say, "I had no idea what that experience was like, but now I'm glad I have seen into someone else's world." And for the times when I say, "No, the world isn't like that!" and mentally argue with the author.

All of it lifts me. Which experience I go for depends on what mood I'm in, what I need at the moment: education, comfort, escape, reassurance, stretching, challenge. In this season of thankfulness, I'm thankful there are so many books, and I'm grateful I've been able to contribute to the conversation in whatever small way.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Going there

The story wasn't working, and I couldn't figure out why. And then I realized: the two members of this broken relationship had to confront each other. All the main character's internal musings about the conflict would never be as productive, or as interesting, as her facing the other person and letting us see the conflict play out. Asking the questions she needed to ask; saying the things she needed to say. 

Backing away from conflict is one of my weaknesses as a writer, and I continually have to push myself to go there. Because that's where the story is.