The Best Writer I Have Ever Read

It was a busy weekend of interviews for me – one on Friday and two on Monday – and with each interview I made precisely the same mistake. Having read the authors’ books and bios I concluded that I knew who they were, and spent the days leading up to our conversations with a mild dread. It was not that I didn’t like these writers’ books, but I had, for very suspicious reasons, constructed a vaguely hostile personality for each author. I say suspicious because I have interviewed hundreds of writers and in nearly every instance I feel as though our conversation ended too soon, as if I have just made a friend and now we must part. Not these writers, however; these writers were going to be a problem.

What is as surprising as my dread was the immediacy with which it was dispelled. I met the first author at his hotel. He was running slightly late, and I was waiting in the lobby when he hurried through the hotel doors. The sun was at his back and so his face was in shadow, and yet even before he spoke, merely seeing his walk, his wave, even his frame, I understood instantly that he was nothing like the man I had imagined. Why, he wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

It reminded me again that Life is the greatest writer I have ever read. The qualities I had predicted I would encounter in this writer were there, but within the context of his whole self. Within the context of his whole self, these qualities were in service to something I simply could not have predicted, something curious and ultimately loving. The same was true of the next two writers I interviewed. By the last interview on Monday I found myself marveling at Life exactly as if it were another author I could interview. Look at the surprising elegance of your construction, I thought. You are a master!

Life is not only a master writer, but a supremely friendly one. I hope to remember that the next time I decide I won’t like someone – or, more to the point, that someone won’t like me. After all, Life wrote me as well, and I can only assume I am as elegantly whole as the strangers I interview. Who is it I think I’m meeting in those conversations? The grace of life is this easy to forget precisely because it is everywhere I look.

Remember to catch Bill every Tuesday at 2:00 PM PST/5:00 EST on his live Blogtalk Radio program Author2Author!

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