Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Roll away your stone, I'll roll away mine

I think a lot about who I am writing for, when I write. I have my ideal readers, wonderful lovely people, who seem to know what the words on the page were meant to say, even when I haven't quite written them properly. Who see beyond the clumsiness, and into the heart of the story. In a very real sense, everything I have ever written is for them.

Then there are the people whose names would be sung across an acknowledgements page. The ones who spend hours talking through plot difficulties and characters who have, somewhat distressingly, developed minds of their own. (Or who have inconveniently died.) The people who call me to remind me to eat when I am working, or who forgive me, when I must sacrifice our plans on the altar of my story. The one who have always had my back, who are the safety new that allows me to walk the tightrope of the writer's life.

There is also the audience of ghosts. The problem with life is that we eventually die of it, and there are people who will never read my work. My Irish grandmother will never know that her stories are the reason the Celtic haunts my work. The first teacher who taught me to love words and language will never see what I have learned to do with them. The person who helped me begin to put myself back together when I was broken, who named me survivor, not victim, will never know that writing is how I claim my survival.

The audience of ghosts will only grow larger, and it cracks something open inside me to realize that. To realize there isn't time to wait, not really, to tell stories. That if you wait too long, the only story you tell is that of goodbye.


  1. Okay, this made me all teary, and I had to grab tissues. There are a lot of ghosts that I write for as well, a lot of people who inspired and influenced me.

    There are even people who I no longer talk to -- for whatever reason -- who affected my writing. They are a different kind of ghost, but I write for them, as well.

    I don't think I ever looked at it this way -- so, thank you for the new perspective of influence and audience.

    This is a beautiful post. As always, I'm so glad to read you. ~Ali

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your counselor. (I saw the note on your blog this morning). How sad. And still your post is so beautiful. I can relate to the feeling of writing for a growing "audience of ghosts," since my parents also passed away much too early. And I'm sure many writers are familiar with this sense of loss, and are, at least sometimes, writing to ward it off.

    That said, I chose to believe that "they" (whoever they are) are still around, and having a critical eye on things! I'm just unwilling to believe anything else.

    Again, thanks for the wonderful image. "Audience of ghosts" sounds dark, but I find it comforting, too.

  3. Thanks, everyone.

    And Steffi, I absolutely love this: "That said, I chose to believe that "they" (whoever they are) are still around, and having a critical eye on things! I'm just unwilling to believe anything else."

    Me, too.