Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

The Tears Bear Witness…

There is nothing unusual when reading a scene evokes a strong emotion, perhaps a lump in the throat or maybe even tears. When it is the author that feels this, it is a clear testament to his/her connection to what s/he has written, to the part of the author imbibed in the story.

But what puzzles me is, when even after reading the same passage 5, 10, even 30 times, the same strong emotion is evoked. It happened to me this week, when my publisher suggested I read through the book one final time to spot any mistakes the editor or I might have missed.

There is a particular passage in Oilspill dotcom where the protagonist, realizing that they are probably going to lose the court case, runs out of the office in frustration but is then confronted by pouring rain. He stares up at huge skyscrapers and feels helpless and puny. A delicate dialogue follows between him and his girlfriend.

I got choked up when I wrote it, choked up when I reread it, and choked up when I edited it. My voice broke when I read it out loud to my writer’s group and I remember stopping mid sentence to gulp some water.

Now, two years on, I read it for possibly the 20th or 30th time and the tears well up again. Why?

It is magic.

Even if no one else in the whole world is moved, it is magic nonetheless. There is a connection between the writer and the character that defies definition. And perhaps it doesn’t matter what the reason is or who else it affects, because no one will ever understand a character like its author.

And just maybe, this is why we write – to experience the magic.

Good Writing,


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