My brother studied fine art and is now a graphic designer. I always envied his skills, but my hands aren’t adept at holding a brush or pencil. So I spent years exploring other creative ways to share ideas. I studied theatre at university, spent ten years as a professional photographer, and became a qualified journalist and later an editor of magazines in New York and London. I had discovered that it’s in words that my heart finds its home. They let me build worlds.
For me, words are literal telepathy. An idea is created in one person’s mind and then received in the mind of another. When I read the works of Shakespeare, for example, his thoughts, from hundreds of years ago, are travelling across time and space to find a place in my own mind. What a wonderful thing to be able to connect with the minds of the greatest thinkers from history.
Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher, has an idea in the year 150 AD, and nearly two thousand years later it takes up space in my own head. Renes Descartes jots down the words “I think therefore I am” in 1637 and four centuries later I find myself considering them. I write these words today and, as if by magic, my thoughts find their way into your head.
What a privilege it is to be able to create something as a writer and have it take up space in the consciousness of a reader. To create an experience of the mind that can inform and entertain, that can lead to adventure, that can play games and have fun, or create an emotive connection between a person and a topic or subject. To inspire. To engage. To enlighten.
But with this privilege comes an obvious responsibility. No space is more sacred than the mental space of another, so if I really expect someone to play host to my ideas in their mind, it seems only appropriate that I take the time to craft my words with the utmost respect for the reader.
I must consider clarity, rhythm and flow. I must consider the tone and emotional nature of the subject matter. I must consider how I want the reader to feel after they have read my words. Have I made their day better? Have I stirred a response? Have I made them think and feel differently? Have I changed something? Have I triggered an action?
Words are ideas solidified. They are intangible notions made real, and then shared. They have a special magic that allows a writer to pluck a thought from the air and place it into the imagination of the reader. And this magic must be handled with care, because there is a delicate intimacy in the sharing of ideas, and it is that connection that makes writing so special for me.