Yesterday, I had a lovely conversation about books and plots and Big Ideas and…conversations. The popcorn magic of talking to someone excited and interested about what you are talking about (and vice versa) comes out of conversation, the exchange of ideas and words, tonality and energy, something we strive to recreate from our days after school or late at night on college campuses with trusted friends that wouldn’t laugh at the crazy things that swim through our minds. It’s the sort of thing authors try to capture on the page or bloggers on the screen; the give and take of dialogue that paints a picture of our lives–the ones that matter going on inside of our heads that we share infrequently with the people in our closest confidences.
All writing is a conversation.
The best books are the ones that made me think (Feed), the ones that made me feel something new (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) or something I forgot (Where The Wild Things Are, The Night Circus), the ones that made me look at the world–and its people–differently (Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon), gifting me with brand new ideas both wondrous (Tuck Everlasting) or uncomfortable (Unwind). They are the ones that made me feel like the author understood me (Spider Robinson) or something about the universe (Kurt Vonnegut, Shel Silverstein, Mark Twain), or where the characters understood and I forgot that they were never real (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay). The stories welcomed me into a conversation with the author, the characters, but ultimately myself and I took the time to think about it, about my reactions, about what I loved and hated most and then I could turn to the people I felt closest with and say, “You *HAVE* to read this book!” or “Have you read this book? What did you think about…?” and start a conversation. A real world conversation. One that somehow transported itself from the words to my mind to the sounds out of my mouth or onto my own pages and the conversation kept going, transforming, reliving, and reaching out to embrace more and more people into new thoughts, new ideas, new connections, new friends. All out of a conversation. The ones that matter, anyway.
So, as writers, the question is: What do you want to say?