Friday, July 22, 2011

Sketches of Humanity

“A bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one, it comes as sincerely from the author's soul.” – Aldous Huxley


“We give in to our fears by small degrees” the quote began. I stopped rifling through the pages of my notebook and continued to read. “For all our bravery it won’t stop the world from changing in the blink of an eye. We come away different, changed in subtle ways. Life is the teacher who first taught us there are no guarantees or warnings to duck when we’re sucker punched out of left field. Instinct or impulse, who’s to say why we take the hand we’re dealt and make the most of it. An act ingrained in our humanity much like breathing with each unconscious inhale and exhale which escapes our lungs.”

In retrospect I realized this paragraph described me; the whole context of what, how, and why I write. The guts of what I strive to explore in words, the pain, survival, and hardship underlining my every waking moment. The want and need to understand why something brings someone joy or awakens a smile. For every action there must be a reaction, a need to know how you got from point A to point B, without some miraculous injection of surrealism.

Keep this in mind while I mention a book I recently read that didn’t quite…mesh well with me. One of those feel good books, with pages drenched in sappy, too good to be true plot lines throughout. No, I won’t mention which book. You’ll discover why soon enough. Although not my usual fare, I still read the book all the way through. Why? I think in the end, I wanted to try to understand why the author wrote the book to begin with. Why not disperse a bit of pain and agony, along the way to give each emotion a worthy contender and a reason to be appreciated?

Every book that is written has some deep rooted catharsis of the writer enmeshed beneath the words. Take away the believability and reality from the equation and what is left? Did the author need to write this book for an escape, a diversion from life? My experience tells me reality is stranger than fiction, so imagination alone isn’t enough of a directive to explain away the cheat sheet of happily ever after fairytale ending. I want to see the characters earn that ending.

Without a doubt someone will have read this book and found substance where I found none.

Do we read to escape or to better understand and grasp a different viewpoint of life? Everyone takes what they need from between the pages of a book.

Reasoning is always peppered throughout the bold overview beneath words unspoken on a page, if we look. Yet words alone don’t quite encompass the whole, do they? We tend to take what we need from words. The mediocre becomes a balm to fear and pain, comedy a filter against heartbreak and stress, and horror grinding reality into bone.

Hence the quote beginning this post, “A bad book is as much a labor to write as a good one.” A gift of words in any format isn’t to be taken lightly. I won’t judge a book, I’m more likely to explore the author. What I will do is write for me, plant echoes of myself between the words, and someday get read by someone who found substance between the pages…when someone else might not. And maybe, someone will even have the same view of something I wrote such as the book I couldn’t fathom. Words hold secrets entrapped between the pages, treasure troves for individual discretion. How deep will you dig between the lines? - Indigo

Picture From Here


  1. I'm so happy to see you back and writing. As always, you write with a clear understanding of who YOU are. Refreshing.

  2. So true. For me the kind of book I enjoy reading and writing depends on what's going on in my own life. There are times I don't want anything but a guaranteed happy ending - other times I want something that takes more chances with my heart. :)

  3. I don't think we 'dig' into books as much as a good book erupts inside of us. We think that we are getting inside of the author or their character when it is the opposite that happens. There is something inside the reader that reacts with the words and is brought to life in our soul. That is why, I think, I can like 'Atlas Shrugged', which many find 'unreadable' and not like 'Gravity's Rainbow', which was TORTURE!

    A good writer has the talent with their words to find the beauty and pain that is unspoken until the writer gives them voice. You do an excellent job at that, Indy, and I hope that you experience both material and spiritual success as a writer.

  4. Indigo, no matter what the title or who the author, I want to become involved--even if I'm reading poetry. It is easy for me to become lost in a book, because make-believe and fantasy
    comes easy for me--all this long life.

    Usually I take on the character(s) lives as my own. Also I wish to learn something of the author's philosophy, and most good writers make this a simple matter.

    It is good to see you here again after nearly five weeks, girl. You are unique on my list.

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  6. Indigo, I missed you and I'm happy you're back writing. I did enjoy this post and your thoughts on the "why" you write.

  7. "plant echoes of myself between the words": how beautiful

    thank you for not being judgemental... that seems so rare nowadays, and it is deeply refreshing

    Joanna x

  8. Most of my book reading is escape, while my magazine reading and such is to learn.

  9. That image is amazing. There is so much tension in it. We give into our fears in small ways. Reminds me of a song I know that talks about it being a slow fade from the right to the wrong. It's never one huge leap. We give into our alcoholism, our sex addiction, our promiscuity in much the same way. Degrees. Little baby steps into one huge mistake, or many. I suppose we creep into our successes as well. This is life, no? One moment at a time, gaining and losing ground.

    I'm so happy to have you back Indigo. I hope you are well and fully recovered!


  10. I'll admit I'm too quick to judge sometimes. There are books I've tried to read and just couldn't, books with great reviews that mean nothing to me when it's so damn dull I can't finish it. I suppose authors everywhere- including me- should be thankful for people like you, Indigo. (Hugs)

  11. First and most important, Writer, great to see you back and writing. You're in good form. Now on this book (which I totally need to now the title of, mind you) are you one who must finish every project including reading a bad book? Tell me!

  12. Hi Indigo,

    Books are blueprints to the soul of the writer. Much prose arises from pain, but there are many writers who are quite happy just reflecting positivity and the outpouring of love.

    Writing is an expression of the inner sleeve.

    Keep up the excellent work my friend. Many blessings.

  13. An interesting thing to consider too is how do we find these things between the lines, those pieces of the writer, that deeper meaning for writing? I eluded to this earlier, but many times you may have to read a number of an author's works to find that thread and follow it to its end. You start seeing patterns that were always there, but previously invisible to you. Those are the best sorts.

  14. Perhaps he wrote it like I do sometimes, from an outsider looking in, assuming.

  15. "I want to see the characters earn that ending" -- me too; great way to put it.

  16. It's not easy to write any book--and some people just don't have all that much to say.

  17. I read because I like a good answer, no matter who gives it. So I read things I am sure I won't even like at times...just to see...& sometimes they suprise me & thrill me. But the HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY always hugging a sapling & joining hands to sing The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow...ack..


  18. What a wonderful, thoughtful post.

    For some reason I should probably psychologically explore, my characters are usually quite hard-edged and er, some might say un-likeable. But to me, they're just real. It's funny how perspectives differ.

  19. oh my friend, i miss you so much. i am so glad that you are doing okay, i have been thinking of you. i want cool books, books that take me away and enthrall me :)

  20. You are back to make the remainder of summer much more interesting, a more insightful space in 2011. I am so glad.

    You put me to shame in your patience with and curiosity about an author whose book does not necessarily appeal to you. My MO in those cases is to feel the edginess in one read, admit I feel edgy reading it in the next read, decide to give it one more chance in the next read, and when the next read comes to most likely decide that my reading time is too precious to spend any more of it with that particular book!

    Wonderful, wonderful post, dear you. xo

  21. But it terrifies me that you might examine more the author rather than judge the book...

  22. Great picture! That's exactly what it feels like, right? Two left feet, or right hands. Reading is a great escape and it can be tiresome when a particular book isn't the right read for us, but I usually stay with it, too. There are very few books I've put down and not picked up again, at least to skim through, looking for the nugget.

  23. because i think i write like crap, i have no other reason to write but for me, and i find that freeing, though it makes the soup quite thin.yes, its a great image and howdy pickles!

  24. there are pulitzer prize winning books that i think are rubbish. kind of makes me feel better when someone doesn't like my writing. it's freeing, yes?

  25. Thinking of you, dear Indigo. Sending you big hugs!

  26. It seems that we all see things differently and if we can get past the observer even a little with our imagination it opens things up a little. i think this must be how the idea of role playing stated to be used in therapy. there is a lot to think about here. thanks
    Crying With A Sense Of Human

  27. Your quote on a bad book is just as hard to write as a good book really made me think. It's really true isn't it. I hope I'm writing a good one. =)

  28. I admire you finishing the book, I just can't force myself to read them when they turn out to be to sappy or fake. But a good book, a joy for sure.

  29. Even books that I don't like I still appreciate. I know how much hard work went in to putting it on the shelf. There are so many people that work on a book and give it their all, even if not everyone enjoys it. Anyone who writes a book, whether good or bad, should be applauded!

    Also, I’m a new follower. Stop by my blog and follow me too? :)

  30. I think a book has a lot to do with context. Where I am in my own life relates directly to how much I will enjoy a book, I think.

    Great post - incredibly thoughtful, as always.

  31. Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

    Lola x

  32. if it feels like i could have a drink with one of the characters, i'll read the book. if the people in the book are not authentic and seem trite or contrived i have to walk away.

    saw some of the flooding in/around upstate ny and thought of you. hope all is well in your corner of the world.


  33. What a great reminder not to judge, Indigo. We all come to the written word--whether as a reader or as a writer--with a different need, a different perspective and a different life experience.

    Words should not be wasted--even those poorly written--but rather embraced as a validation of who we are within.

    Thanks for the great post!

  34. Hi Indigo,

    I really enjoyed reading your post.
    I never read books randomly. There is always a reason for me to read a specific book. The reason might be either intellectual or emotional, but there must be one. As a direct consequence, I never get rid of the books I've read because they have become an extension of my own mind, of my own psyche, and of my own personality. They all contain a key to myself.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.



Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.