Extending Beyond the Text
There was a simple question posted on her page by a well known author of both children’s literature and poetry. She asked whether the bond between reader and writer is real, or is it ephemeral. Her question prompted me to answer, and I’ll be expanding on that answer here: Yes, Virginia, the bond is real. (I did not use that terminology in my response on her page!)
What I wrote was a brief, eloquent statement, not knowing what I would say, until the answer was written. I surprised myself, coming up with a concept that has never occurred to me. Truly great authors write a story that extends beyond the page. Those of us who write have probably always thought of that statement in terms of creating characters and a story world that continues in the reader’s mind beyond the final lines of the story. Good writers are successful at doing that.
Excellent writers do more than that; they create emotions and thoughts and responses in the reader that extend into their day to day lives, through the process of identification or recognition, into their sense of self and who they are. The writer may never know the effect they have upon a reader, but when a reader incorporates what they have learned and experienced through reading into their mode of being, applying life affirming aspects and extending it to others, the author has written something everlasting, going beyond even the authenticity and artistry of the text itself.
I never thought about it quite in this way, but I think one of the reasons I write is to create that bond between myself and readers, so that my thoughts and emotions, even more than my words, can live beyond my lifetime. But it is a writer’s skill in utilizing words and literary technique that creates that bond in the first place. So, we work to express ourselves, a circular effort, made whole, when we are read and assimilated.
This is what I wrote to her: I think there is an actual bond. Writers deeply affect their readers, and though readers can’t often find a way to give it back to the writer, they feel that bond, and can take away life affirming aspects of what they’ve read, apply it to their lives, and give it back to others. In that sense, what we write can be everlasting, and goes beyond even the beauty and artistry of the text itself.
I don’t think this is true only of writing. I think it is also true of art and music and conversation. When we share the best of who we are, we create a bond that is everlasting.