There is something truly transcendental about wonderful writing.
You know it if you continue to flip pages once a story’s over. You want more, so much, that you read everything that succeeds it. Other books published by the same author, by the same publisher, the list of variants, thank-yous, mini bios, literally… everything.
You feel it if you hold a book to your chest, once all pages have been turned, and catch your breath. Let out a sigh, and emphatically feel that you have been enriched.
You internalize good writing when you read something once, and it never leaves you.
“Who taught you to write in blood on my back? Who taught you to use your hands as branding irons? You have scored your name into my shoulders, referenced me with your mark. The pads of your fingers have become printing blocks, you tap a message on to my skin, tap meaning into my body. Your morse code interferes with my heart beat. I had a steady heart before I met you, I relied upon it, it had seen active service and grown strong. Now you alter its pace with your own rhythm, you play upon me, drumming me taut.”
When it speaks to you so clearly, so steadily, as if it has infiltrated your mind and stolen your thoughts, run them through a cycle of poignancy, and seeped them back out. Or, if you find yourself feeling something you’ve never felt in regards to a matter you’ve never experienced with such urgency, such gut wrenching immediacy, that you know you’re affected.
You understand good writing when the writer becomes you friend. Your escape. When they help you forget your troubles, and run away with you to another world. When your new co-worker is “such a Gloria Gilbert,” or you can’t help but think this exact situation happened once, in a novel by Hemmingway. When you weep for them, laugh for them, hold your heart for them. You know a good writer.
As a reader, it’s very easy to spot these writers. The moment you experience any of the above, you’re sold. But what makes these writers as iconic, relatable, evocative, genius, as they are? What must they experience? Extreme tragedy? Heartbreak? A life of solitude? Heightened emotion? Magic? How does a piece of writing become someone’s Written on the Body (quoted above), Eat Pray Love, Harry Potter?
I’ve been struggling to figure this out for years. Can someone enlighten me? Pretty please?