In just a couple of days, it will be Christmas. For many, this is a religious holiday, but for all, it is a time of gift-giving. Just when the nights stretch longest, we light up trees, anoint them with stars, and tuck presents under its boughs.
There’s one gift that doesn’t fit under the tree and yet it is the most beautiful of all. I’d like to focus on that gift. Won’t you walk with me for a while?
We’re all readers. We love turning the pages to see how another writer has captured time. I think you would agree that when we open a book, we begin a journey of sorts. We’ve usually read the blurb, maybe even read a few reviews, so we’ve got a road map. Before we even begin reading, we likely have a sense of what lies ahead, or at least we think we do.
As the pages turn, we meet one character and then another. Some won’t leave us alone. Their quirks resonate or irritate and might haunt us through the day. Protagonist or antagonist, they’re familiar to us, and our emotions rise and fall with every incident or encounter. Soon, we’ve a group tagging along. We’re no longer alone.
Enmeshed in the story, the unexpected often occurs. The characters begin to fade to the background. We hear them, we see them, but we realize someone else is walking with us now. And it is through this one person that the characters act and speak. That’s when, in a flash, we know that we’ve met the author.
Virginia Woolf wrote, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” Don’t her words ring true?
It’s a rare gift when we find the writer in his or her story. When this happens to me, my reading deepens with a layer of respect, and I look for more pieces of the writer’s soul. Do you do the same? Do you look for their hopes, maybe their fears, or perhaps their great loves, hidden among the characters?
The story, whether romance or thriller or mystery, becomes multidimensional and sacred for me when I meet the author. Always, I’m humbled by the encounter, and even though we’ve never really met, a friendship is born. Do you have a similar experience?
Dear writer friends, you are the gift that doesn’t fit under a tree. My short poem attempts to capture this truth:
I wish you a happy, refreshing, and love-filled holiday. Till next year, let’s bundle up and stay well…