Deep POV: Confessions of a Christian Writer

The ramblings of an emergent-realistic-edgy-working-for-God-and-the-pay-isn’t-that-great-sometimes-confused-christian-fiction writer (uh, that would be me).

Monday, August 15, 2005

Meeting on the Bridge of Words

"... under the imaginary table that separates me from my readers, don't we secretly clasp each other's hands?" ~ Bruno Schulz
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While I was reading Madeleine L'Engle's wonderful book, Walking on Water, I came across the following: "The author and the reader 'know' each other; they meet on the bridge of words." This strikes me as being very similar to the Schultz quote and says something that is universally understood about an author and her readers. Books are not like film (now much more the world's first choice when it comes to either entertainment or enlightenment). Yes, they can be interpreted by each individual film goer, but the experience, in my humble opinion, is not nearly as intimate as the experience shared by an author and her reader. Each reader comes to the work fresh, ready to make her interpretation, to have her moment with the author. It's as if author and reader sit together in a comfortable room, perhaps before a fireplace, and talk over tea or coffee. There's a quality about it--perhaps brought on by the fact that you read lying in bed or cozily in a favorite chair--that you don't find in film. Yes, both film goer and reader can be influenced by friends or formal critics, but the reader, in the end, has the ability to defy whatever criticism she's heard/read and embrace what she's reading totally without anyone standing between her and the author. No one walks out of the theatre, no one offers sarcastic comments. Yes, just as with film, she might talk with her friends and dredge up some points about the story she liked or didn't like. That's her public persona. But when she reads, it's just her and the author ... just her and me because, of course, even though I'm not yet published I identify strongly with that author. We communicate, writer and reader. Even if I'd been dead two hundred years, we'd still communicate, and all it would take is paper and ink. I would not need a special film festival held on my behalf or a famous film critic to hype my great work. I could be with that reader in the wink of an eye; all she'd have to do is take the book down from the shelf and turn to chapter one.

That, to me, is magical.