Today I turn 22.
I’ve been looking at my achievements in the past year with a satisfied but restless eye. You see, the writer is never satisfied with her work…and I’ve set resolutions for this coming year that might seem hefty to many, even impossible. They’re goals I’m probably going to take years to achieve–but only now am I embracing the challenge for real.
I want to be a cruel writer. Let me explain.
Sometimes you come across a book so bold and vivid that a mere glance at the first page fills you with excitement to start reading–but there’s something else. You hesitate, as if standing at the edge of a cliff. You almost take a step back.
You’re afraid to start reading that book, because once it’s finished you can’t recreate the first read. The magic of turning those pages for the first time? It won’t happen again, and it could be years before you find another book with that power!
The book is so powerful, you hold it in your hands and can almost feel its energy surging through your body. You’re in love with it and afraid of it, and you haven’t even finished the first chapter yet.
I don’t know if that’s pretentious, but I want to write books like that.
It means writing stories with plots that pack a punch. It means practicing until my voice can grip readers with a sentence. It means putting thought into small details to make the story unforgettable.
Perhaps it’s almost impossible, but I’m confident today. I want my books to be like that.
It’d be nice to know the power in my stories frightened readers before they even began, because they knew I would play with their emotions and perhaps break their hearts. Because to be an author, you must be cruel.
And I noticed that the authors I love are the cruelest ones I know, the ones who used words to make me an emotional wreck because they had that power. The ones who made me fall madly for a character, only to kill him. The ones who never wrote a happily ever after. The ones who made sure I wouldn’t forget them, who made an effort to create a beautiful and sad read.
I’ve decided I want to be ruthless in dealing with my characters and giving my readers an experience they’ll remember. It means breaking my own heart, too–it’s not a skill I’ll achieve without suffering.
But if the writer doesn’t cry, the reader doesn’t cry.
It will take me a long time to get there, but I’ll know by that point that my words have been chiseled to shine. To shatter. To be remembered.
Have you ever found a book that had this effect on you? Which book was it, and why did you feel this way–was it the writing, the story, or both?