The Intimate Relationship
Readers and writers are in an intimate relationship, and don’t let anyone tell you they write only for themselves. Yes, sometimes one writes because the words demand to be expressed, without regard to whether they are popular with others. But guess what, you are also the reader of those words, learning something new and discovering what lurks in your own unconscious as you hear your own narrative. You can be both the reader and the writer, like one of those fantastic plants or insects that have both the male and female parts on one organism. (Here’s the call to my entomologist husband to give an example of this.)
Writing may be a solitary activity for hours, months and years, but there is never anything that is all complete in your head beforehand. No. Maybe a glimpse, but as you write, something get created. That is one of the reasons that memoir writing in particular can change your life. It is a stimulation and response experience within you. Something is evolving. It is a relationship. In my writing groups, we read segments out loud to each other. Do you think what is on the page remains the same when you speak it and are heard. I don’t think so. Something in the synergy opens new doors. Tell each other what is alive for you when you hear it. Notice your own voice when you read it.
So I propose that writing is a social activity. Two parts of yourself, or two people create a new life. Like a child This may sound dramatic, but try it. Start a writing circle with a couple of friends. Each week one of you can bring three or four opening lines and then everyone writes for 20 minutes on the one that has energy. What remains most vivid in my memory is…. The last time I saw him/her… I wish he/she had told me....Then read to each other and discover a whole fresh way of knowing each other.
I got a comment today on a blog I wrote last November after my 3-day free Kindle offer of The Woman in the Photograph in which 10,000 people downloaded my book. Seven months passed, then this week a reader picked up the story she had downloaded. And she had the generosity to send me a comment.
She said: I felt compelled to visit your site and explore it after I finished this book. I had downloaded it during this free period on Amazon and had it tucked away on my Kindle. I started the book on Tuesday and finished it Thursday morning. I loved it. Every minute of every page. I a second generation American, born of a mother whose German parents immigrated from Russia as children. Not Jewish but still German immigrants. What an interesting story you found. Thank you for sharing it.
Flash! Now I have the feeling of bonding, the oxytocin chemical that makes me feel like I am not writing in a vacuum, that we are sharing something far more universal than the particulars of my own story. I am part of her story and she is part of mine. Life is a relationship. Writing is a relationship. When you have a pen, or a keyboard, or a story to tell, you are not alone.
Pick up your pen, open your computer, your tablet, your mind, your heart. Write a phrase, a line, a paragraph, and read it to someone, or send it to someone, just for fun, just because words are a door. Enjoy.