Nothing Lost

The stories we write are not unlike children we raise. We grow them with love and attention in our home and then send them out into the world where they will grow yet again. What becomes of your child will always be rooted in how that child’s life began in your care. So too with the stories you write. The relationship your stories eventually form with your reads began in your heart and your mind. But that relationship, strangely, has very little to do with you. Imagine you had a child who became very famous. Once you said, “Sing Mommy another song. You sing just like a angel.” Once you argued with her, and laughed with her, and asked her what kind of cereal she wanted for breakfast. Now she stands on a stage and sings for ten thousand people. Those people might dress like her, might read about her life in magazines or fantasize of meeting her someday. To those people, she is like a dream, and at times it feels as if she is singing just for them, her songs speaking so directly to the longing and loss in their very distant lives.

And perhaps the story you write will becomes famous. Perhaps ten million people will read it, will give over hours and hours of their life to this story, will suffer and rejoice with your characters and see the worlds you wrote in their own unique imagination. If these people love that story, they will feel as if you’ve written it just for them, as if they had summoned it in answer to some question. To them, it will be their story, for it was their life it altered in some small way.

Or perhaps only a few people will read it. How many people read your book will affect certain experiences you have after you finished the story, but it will not change your relationship to that story. That is as intimate and personal as your readers’ relationship to your story. What changed in you in the writing of the story cannot be undone by sales or awards or reviews any more than a young woman could lose her adulthood when her mother tells her again how she sings like an angel.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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