The Writer’s Gift

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…

79 thoughts on “The Writer’s Gift

  1. Great post, Gwen! Sometimes I do look for the writer’s life in their own story (because I too enjoy infusing some of my experience into mine), but sometimes things also take a turn for the worse and I get a feeling that the writer is living vicariously through their characters. Rothfuss’ Name Of The Wind comes to mind. Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Stuart. It’s an interesting process, isn’t it? Often I connect with writers through the choice of words or a phrase and not the content. When it’s explicit, as you’ve mentioned, it’s a different experience. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


  2. I never really thought of it that way before, but you’re right. That special ‘something’ that draws the reader to buy every book a beloved author has written isn’t so much the characters- though they often shine (Suzanne Brockmann’s Izzy comes to mind)-it’s the essence of the writer we’re connecting with.
    Love this post, Gwen, thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was looking for a review quote to advertise one of my books earlier, and I came across this. It’s contentious with regard to Gwen’s suggestion that we reveal ourselves through our writing, but I would be interested in everyone’s thoughts about it.

    “I like books that take me into uncharted and sometimes uncomfortable regions, as many of the classics do, causing me to think and evaluate my own moral compass. I particularly like books written by authors who have mastered their craft so well you soon lose sight of the person writing them and enter the world they have created.”.

    Maybe this lady didn’t see me? Oddly, this is one book where a lot of my beliefs come over very strongly, intentionally.

    Again, a happy Christmas and New Year. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fascinating, isn’t it? When I’ve met the author, it’s not been through the specific content, rather it’s been through the choice of words, a phrase, subtle themes that travel through the book.😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good Morning My Friend,
    I am deeply touched by what you have written and by the poem. Your words are similar to my what I believe. We the storyteller that hide reveal who we are in our writing. I agree with Virginia Woolf wholeheartedly and couldn’t have said it better.

    Have a lovely Christmas and a safe crossing into 2022.
    Shalom aleichem

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Such a beautiful piece, Gwen. I always love reading your writing. You have this magical way of putting things. This post is no different. And I love the poem to wrap it all up. I wish you and your family the Merriest of Christmases.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I first realized this decades ago when I read one bestselling fiction writer who had a secondary character experience sexual abuse at the age of 8. Then another sub plot mentioned exactly the same thing. Told me something about the author. About the same time another best selling author mentioned in the background in earlier books abuse to a child. Twice. Once his writing progressed this did not happen any more and I think he came to terms with his own past

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beautifully explained, Chris. Thank you. Through writing, we can sometimes express emotions that we don’t feel free to express otherwise – and then let them go. Rather incredible, right? I hope the holidays bring you and yours much laughter and joy. ❄🎄❄

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m always looking for the author when I’m reading. Like you, I love when I find them. What a beautiful poem that expresses that journey we take with each book. It’s such a gift to find and understand a bit more, along with being entertained. Great post, Gwen xo Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, dear Denise. I’m not surprised that you, too, look for the author. How wonderful! I hope you and your beautiful family have a truly magical Christmas. ❄🎄❄

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I loved this post! There are some writers that I do feel I grow close to when reading their works. Thanks for your beautiful thoughts, your exquisite poem and above all your Christmas gift. Have a lovely Christmas and may 2022 be a sweet and happy one for you! xx

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Your deep insight into the process of reading a book is astounding, Gwen. It is when that feeling of meeting the author is attained that the story is forever embedded in my heart and soul. Such a beautiful gift you gave to us today. The poem is exquisite. I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas! Sending hugs!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much, Jan. I’m like you in that once I meet the author, he or she finds a home in my heart. I hope you and your family have a grace-filled and very Merry Christmas. 💕

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Another thought-inspiring post, Gwen. Although I don’t do it often, I do allow parts of myself to bleed through into my characters and stories. There is also much of my writing that is an extreme opposite of the way I think, view life, and act.
    The poem you wrote is beautiful and clearly conveys your thoughts. Wishing you a blessed and Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, Mae. I agree with both your experience of bleeding through and standing back. It’s a gifted process for sure. May you have a blessed Christmas as well. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m still mystified!
    I write sizzling-hot romantic suspense, I have a trilogy of Christian romantic suspense. I’m writing thrillers…
    What does that say about me?
    I’ll give you a few clues. I am a Christian. (Church of England – Anglican) I feel strongly that shooting for pleasure (so-called sport) is wrong. I believe in justice.

    On a lighter note, Merry Christmas to you all, and prayers for a happy, safe, New Year.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Sarah. When I’ve met the author, it’s been a comment or phrase that opened my eyes to him or her. Something that revealed their passion, their sorrow, their deep love. Like you, I’ve written in different genres. Four years ago I could not have imagined tackling international conflicts through a thriller series. But I suspect readers have noticed the writer who has deep concerns about suffering, about justice, about reaching across the divide to save our beautiful planet. I’m in the stories for sure. I cried many tears for the Syrian refugees who filled the pages, and I felt horror when I realized why they have suffered as they have. 💗

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I agree. I’m one such a person who spills their emotions and life on paper, huh, and in a way it’s been a source of relief to me. Sometimes I just find myself creating characters whose lifestyles are identical to mine. Sounds good of you noticing.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you, Sarah. I suspect we all leave parts of ourselves in our stories. I know I look for the writer, and when I find him or her, it’s a graced moment. 💗

      Liked by 2 people

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