It occurred to me today that, for all of us writer’s tirelessly working away at our various attempts at novels, we have all recorded a story that is not known by any other person. Sure, some of our characters may be known by name to our friends and loved ones, even some of the highlights of the plot could have slipped from our mouths at some point in the process. But, the story we have written and have not yet shared is totally alien to any body else.
No one else knows the qualities of our protagonist, nor understands their journey. It isn’t even that they do not yet know them well enough to judge such intimacies; they simply haven’t read that story, haven’t lived through it with them as we have in the recording of it. The places we have created in a shy descriptive tone, or have forcefully painted onto the page – they have not been visited by other eyes: even if they are real places in the world, no one else has yet seen it through your own hazy vision. The emotions and frailties we have lumbered our various characters with – be they good or bad – are still waiting to be discovered by those who might like, or hate, them, relate or sympathise, confuse or identify with them.
The overwhelming potential that sits within the words I have written to tell that story – the story that no one else has envisioned or interpreted quite like me – is palpable. Such juicy ripeness is mouthwatering and only my writer’s doubts stop me from devouring it whole.
Suddenly I realise how amazing it is that we have evolved such capabilities, such imagination, such vision. To be able to create some apparition that becomes so unbelievably real to another person that they speak of them as if they were a friend or lover; so intimate and personal are the things they know about people we have just ‘made up’. We have given these people breath on our pages and made them whole, given them a life and a past and a potential future in a world that is nestled so comfortably in my own head that I am able to fashion them in words and share this gift, or curse, with the world.
For the moment, the novel that is yet to be read has such poetic potential that I can never imagine feeling this way about it again. Having someone else read it does, today, seem a defilement, an intrusion so questionable that I doubt being able to let it go into the world at all.
But, what is a story is if it is not told? What is a book if not read? The purpose of writing these stories is to present them to a larger audience, to share them; to put what is within our minds on the page and allow them into the world to influence others. Our characters can not be seen to be alive if they do not exist in the minds of others.
Writing a novel is what I have always wanted to do. But what comes next – sharing this creation – is a new experience for me. I always knew I would write. I am not yet so sure about the possibility of being read.