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On Communicating

Okay, so before I post this one, I have to point out that I have spent the past two days down with a sinus infection. That kind of sleep time, accompanied by its fever dreams, always leaves me with strange and unusual thoughts.

This particular thought started with something I said to a group of kids three days ago about how reading a book is different from every other form of entertainment. What makes reading so powerful (for me) is that the story happens in the reader’s head. The writer creates the story and writes it down, and you might think that the story would be experienced by everyone the same. It’s not, though. Each person who reads your story is going to experience it differently. It’s like a conversation that happens between the writer and the reader, one that happens inside the reader’s brain.

Crazy, right? It’s true, though.

Now that we’ve got that down, here’s the realization that came to me in the wee hours of the morning: writing is an inherently solitary thing. When you’re writing a book, you’re mostly in your own world for a significant number of hours each day. There are no friendly visits from office mates, no phone calls being answered. It’s just you and your book.

It would be easy to think that this kind of lifestyle would lend itself more to introverts and hermits, people who don’t communicate well or don’t want to communicate.

I’m not sure that’s accurate, though. As a writer, you may not be talking much, ┬ábut you are spending all your time trying to communicate. Instead of chatting with a dozen people each day, however, you’re reaching out to thousands, or maybe even hundreds of thousands.

Interesting, huh? So the next time you hear a story about a writer who’s an introvert, or a recluse, or doesn’t do interviews, keep in mind that communication is what he or she does all the time. It’s just in a format that is a little less obvious.

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Posted April 4, 2013 in Life & Writing