"The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart." Maya Angelou
We all know that feeling - the one that we get when we read a great book or a beautiful piece of poetry and it affects us. For me it's about connection and the ability to generate emotion within me. Sometimes, it's an acute feeling that the writer has experienced what I have experienced and he or she has walked down a similar pathway to mine. The emotions may vary. It might be that I find myself enjoying a great big belly laugh or that I'm gasping in shock at a turn of events or that I find tears streaming down my cheeks often unexpectedly by a turn of phrase or some wisely chosen words. However, in most of these instances, the reactions created in me are because the author has written from the heart. He or she has shared something that reaches us and touches us and it brings us closer to them if even for a moment. I think that reading is like inviting a friend over for dinner. You get to choose who you invite. If you want excellent story telling and tales of adventure, you are not likely to invite over that timid friend of yours who barely leaves her home. Reading enables you to invite an author to live with you for a while and to bring all their experiences into your life.
Writing from the heart sounds like it's pretty easy doesn't it, but from my own experiences, it isn't always that straight forward. It requires you to go deeper, to tap into your own emotions and to share these with others - not something we always readily want to do. It also requires you to let go - to tell the editor to take a break for a while so you can scrawl and scribble and release it all on the page. Once it's down, yes invite the editor back, but don't let them take away the rawness or the edge that is going to give you that connectedness I talked about above. I'm certainly no expert in this subject and I like to think that as I write more and more, I'm growing and more willing to go deeper. Sometimes it certainly feels easier to say the words out loud to a friend rather than to write them down. Often, when I write I can't quite find an expression to sum up exactly how it feels and yet in speaking it I can say it over and over until I get my message across. Yet I love the act of writing and so I struggle along with my limited vocabulary and simply try to convey in my stories how it might feel to be that particular character right now, what thoughts might be going on in their head, what physical reactions are happening as a result of the consequences they find themselves in. I know that I can't walk in their shoes, they're made up figments of my imagination after all, but at least I can try.
Many pieces of writing have affected me emotionally over the years, dependent upon my own circumstances and experiences. This year two authors come to mind. The first is Banana Yoshimoto and her book Kitchen and the second is Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch.
I'd love to hear what authors or books you feel passionate about because they connected with you in some way or how you go about writing from the heart yourself to make a connection with your reader.