This month, its all about the question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?
In high school, I took a creative writing class taught by a poet during which we had to keep a writing journal we passed in every couple of weeks for grading. We’d get it back with comments in the margins.
During a study hall one day, I was writing my journal and I happened to look out the window to see bare trees, which led to a little poem that started something like this: “The spindly fingers of the leafless tree stretch into a sunless sky…
I didn’t give the poem another thought until I received my journal back from the teacher after the next grading cycle. Beside that first line of the poem she’d written: “I wish I wrote that.” Given that I remember it all these years later, I guess you could say I was tickled.
That little story sums up how writing has changed my experience as a reader. I constantly stop, reread, marvel and think, “I wish I wrote that.”
Take this gem from the book I’m currently reading, Mother of Pearl, by Melinda Haynes. At the top of page two, I had to stop because of this:
He had never known such colors. Never dreamed brown was such a rainbow. He’d always thought of brown as brown, the color or burnt toast or worn-out shoes. But after months on end he’d learned to parcel out the values into new shades fast approaching the limit of his imagination—Ten-minute Tea. Steeped-Too-Long Tea. Barely Tea. Wet Bark. Sun-Baked Bark. Old-as-Sin Bark. Old Soggy Leaves. Just-Dropped Leaves. Fresh Wet Leaves. And these were just the browns. He had yet to go on to green, which he was just now beginning to see. Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes.
It strikes me that in order to write about colors that way, the author had to see them that way, somehow, somewhere, and then translate it into words. Oh, yes. I'd be over the moon if I came up with something like that.
How brilliant one must be to create even a single paragraph remotely resembling the one above. I respect that talent. I strive for that skill. And yet, even if I never make it, it’s all good.
At the very least, reading good writing feeds my soul.