I go through phases when I can’t get enough to read. I am in that circumstance right now. I drift in and out of novels and essays and works about philosophy and religion and travel and more with a kind of endless appetite. It is voracious and seems to come about this time of year and it is, I imagine, prompted by something. Though I don’t know what. I can’t stop. And then a book hits me with such a profound reaction of emotion that I am stopped. Sadness, or something I can’t quite put my finger on arises. Wanting—that’s it. I want to know everything about the author, the master of words. I want to be the author. I want to inhabit her talent. I want to inhabit her book. I want to be her friend. I want to know and love her, even though I know nothing of her other than her amazing talent as a writer.
I am relieved to realize that at least I am drawn to write after reading her book. I could be very inhibited to write. And at a certain level I am after witnessing her awesome skill. Is there some truth to my concern that I might be expecting to somehow magically be able to write like she does if I put pen to paper just having read her book. Not that I really thought that I would want to write after putting her book down. I was not expecting a piece of exquisite writing—though one can always hope for that. It’s not that at all. I just want to pour out my reactions and I must do that through writing. Not because I want to create something, but because to write is for me to process the experience and to understand, perhaps, what I am feeling.
I have swirls of emotion and a sense of a new beginning. Perhaps a new exploration of writing? What am I to do in this moment but to write? I cannot stop crying and I most certainly am feeling overwhelmed, perhaps embarrassed. But why should I feel weird about the tears? Whatever one encounters, to truly experience it is to be fully taken away with emotions. Often life experiences of all sorts can be so profound. Reading, it should not be a surprise, has such power over me. Isn’t it a wonder of literature that it can be so haunting? Just as music is very often compelling. Is that what makes her so gifted a writer? That she recognizes that to observe and to feel emotion is the essence of a life fully lived? Or is it that she has no other option than to write down her experience and it creates a masterful and intelligent story?
I imagine that she has a process of her own and she might in fact have an outline for her books. But as I read her book, it feels more like it is unraveling before my eyes, liker a river of life just being lived and felt. That is her gift. That is the startling nature of beautiful writing, beautiful music, beautiful art. I am humbled. I am grateful. Oh, the book by the way is Outline by Rachel Cusk.