“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author. When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror. Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of a larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.”
― Rudine Sims Bishop
Bishop’s quote refers to reading as ‘windows, sliding glass doors and mirrors.’ I think it also refers to writing.
I’ve slipped off the projects I’m writing the last two months. That’s why this blog has been quiet since 15 October. A combination of avoidance of a difficult subject (adultery), the interference of domestic problem-solving (moving to a new country for business), and a long separation (not by choice but necessity) from my wife have all somewhat, in my mind these past months, conspired against the discipline of sitting every day for a few hours to sort through the bones of a writing project.
It was only the last few days, when I met a passionate photographer and writer Light Chaser, as I holiday in Bali with Gabi, that I found my old rhythm again. This meeting is important because soon in my conversation with Light Chaser she challenged me to think about what I’m doing or not doing to make this writing happen.
“Start with the first words,” she said, “anything to bring to life what you want to say.” So I wrote a thousand words for her blog, and it’s not bad.
The thing about just writing it down is that you enter that sliding glass door into another dimension.
You talk about things that happen, and suddenly in the middle of all that narrative, you find a nugget of insight. Light Chaser would call it ‘light’ and I agree that it does illuminate your thinking.
Just writing things down is a window, letting in light to better examine those thoughts you had about whatever you want to say.
And it became a mirror for me, for what I believe in relationships. I know that I don’t know what it’s like to enter adultery as a realm of experience. The imagination that it takes to create what might be the opposite of my experience is work that I have to do. When I excavate the dissonance of a character who will cheat and lie about it, I don’t have to lose myself and the fidelity I vowed to my wife. This is what I see in the mirror.
But in the periphery of that clear vision, I might consider the small possibility that another human being might be in a relationship that is suffocating, or indifferent. And again, there could be a sliding glass door into this alternative reality.
All I have to do is ask the questions, and then write what someone might answer through experience. That’s the work of writing.