Every kid who plays baseball dreams of hitting the game-winning home run in the World Series. Basketball players want to make the winning shot at the buzzer and football players want to score the winning touchdown.
It’s different for writers. When we give a live performance, nobody ever raises a lighter in hopes we read another excerpt from our book. And there’s almost never any panties thrown up on the podium.
For me – and I’m guessing it’s like this with many writers – the dream is that my words find a permanent place within you. That they bang around the inside of your head or wrap themselves around your heart and squeeze out something you didn’t know was there. Maybe a depth of empathy or a height of outrage that you hadn’t experienced before.
When you read what I write, you let me into your heart a little bit. And when I write, I’m inviting you into mine. And we’re connecting in a way that maybe only the musicians can. Yet not in some sold-out arena, but in your favorite chair. And while you’ll never cheer or whistle or clap, maybe you’ll crack a smile or shed a tear. It’s intimate, our connection.
There have been passages of books that have had that kind of impact on me. None greater than the last few pages of How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. Once or twice a year I find myself thumbing my way to the last few pages of that book to read what is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read or ever will read. I won’t share it here, but if you want your heart squeezed the way I describe above you’d be doing yourself a favor to read that novel.
Words are immortal. If I could just string some together in a way that move people in the way that Llewellyn has moved me, I think that’s all I would ever need as a writer. Just that one perfect passage.
What about you? Have you ever read anything that stuck with you so much that you actually feel as if your DNA has been changed?
And what’s your “one perfect passage?” Whether you’re a teacher or a police officer or a nurse or a mom or a Christian or whatever…what’s that one thing you strive for that makes it all worth while?