July 15, 2008

The feel of being rained upon

Another quote from Jane Yolen's book, Take Joy - A writer's guide to loving the craft:
Writing takes us into another, brighter, deeper, more engaging world than the world we actually live in. Even mediocre writing can do this. But good writing creates - as E. O. Doctorow has put it -- "not the fact that it's raining but the feel of being rained upon."

Great writing sets the reader down in inimitable worlds that become the reader - in two senses of the word: matching or embellishing the reader's mind, and then metamorphosing the reader by the incorporation of that world into his own.
Or as Proust put it (as quoted by Milan Kundera in The Curtain)
Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer's work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader's recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book's truth.
or in Kundera's own words:
"Against our real world, which, by its very nature, is fleeting and worthy of forgetting, works of art stand as a different world, a world that is ideal, solid, where every detail has its importance, its meaning, where everything in it -- every word, every phrase -- deserves to be unforgettable and was conceived to be such."

The ultimate concern of the artist is not to paint mountains and clouds and trees but the air between them - Wang Wei.

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