“I don’t like reading. I prefer watching the movies.” Probably one of the most unfortunate things I’ve ever been close enough to hear. I’ve heard it several times, and every time it pains me in a way that I couldn’t truly describe. At first I thought it was just the sadness that comes from someone saying that your favorite pastime is not worth much to them, and at that moment you suddenly feel ostracized and alone and you react by either defending the integrity of a good read or simply shrugging it off and moving on. But after reading a beautifully penned story by one of the students in my Advanced Fiction Workshop, I realized that it’s not the pain of finding yourself in the minority, but rather the pain from seeing someone, knowing someone, who will never understand the beauty of a masterpiece painted with words.
Some masterpieces are done with ink, others done with pixels, some with camera angles and others with notes. But words – the main method of communication, one that transcends time and has evolved and become individualized as much as humanity is – is a whole other realm of which I pray that one day I may sit with the masters and perhaps contribute something of my own.
Yes, most people can understand the beauty of the spoken word: paired with the mastery of music and cadence and strategically manipulated silences, it becomes beautiful. Spoken words are what we surround ourselves with everyday. But the written word stands alone, completely isolated from any other artistic form (unless you find a piece that has been integrated into an image, which is a really creative way of merging the two mediums of expressions). When manipulated by a master, you find yourself in another world, or the poetic words flow into your mind like a soft wind, airing out the attic up there by providing perspective outside yourself, beauty in black and white, memories from someone else’s stories. One of the most beautiful things about the written word, I think, is that no one reads the same.
A writer has to let go of the desire to “mean something.” Every reader reads differently, and as such may very well gain something from a piece that was outside of the author’s design. But suddenly, something that you made has become more than just one thing – it has become an experience, an array of different ideas and methods that suddenly gives it that much more depth. So why cry over getting more than you gave?
I suppose it’s the same with a lot of art, and that I’m getting a bit carried away. The only thing I wanted from this was to possibly explain how wonderful it is to read something beautiful, to allow someone else’s words touch your heart, to allow your mind to play with syntax that you could never come up with by yourself. That way more people will understand why I love reading and writing and the written word. Maybe then more people will take a chance on an author, and delve into their hearts in the form of words they had slaved over in order to make it as close to perfection as they can.
But perhaps I need a bit more practice to communicate that to you.