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August 28, 2013
Foreground, background

Foreground, background

So I was engaging in a conversation with another writer in my circle this morning, before work, one not happy with the state of their work in progress, or rather, with the reaction of the group to it. The writer in question does not quibble with that reaction, mind you–but it’s hard, writing from the heart and having people say it’s simply not working for them.

It’s also inevitable, if you write long enough.

What occurred to me as I searched for a way to keep my comrade from abandoning the work outright was this: we need a reason to write anything, within the text itself. Something has to make us want to write, and write what we do, in particular, or we’ll stop.

However, whatever that thing is–it’s ours. Not our readers’. And trying to make something that’s ineffably part of us part of them in the exact same way is a mistake.

Parable: I have taken my wife, my son, my friends on hikes to see a variety of vistas over the years. Often, the view I love, the sublime sense of space and perspective that moves me, gets a polite nod of agreement. A few minutes later, one of the unimpressed voyageurs happens on the tiniest of flowers in the moss, or a lizard sunning itself on a rock, or a banana slug under a picnic table, and they think it’s the coolest thing ever.

They’re on the same path as me–my path, the one I’m sharing with them–but they do not see it through my eyes. They have their own. And they see, and engage with, and remember the things on my path that appeal to them. If I’m lucky, and the mosquitoes aren’t too bad, I pick a path that makes us all happy, for whatever reason.

What they see, only in focus.

What they see, only in focus.

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