Writing and experience

It was as if I was right there.

I felt like I was there with you.

Can’t wait to visit the spots you’ve written about.

Perhaps it was a post about the city in the hot Summer. Perhaps it was about the quiet night. Perhaps it was about a park I had spent the afternoon in.

I’ve been posting about many things every few days but often, when I write about a place or a time of day or a moment, people respond with such lovely words. Then I know exactly what readers were thinking as they read my piece. Such words feel refreshing like balm to my writerly senses.

But why? Why do I love these reactions where readers talk about visualizing a scene or feeling a place along with me (other than the fact that they are positive comments, of course)?

I never thought about writing and the significance of making people experience something until now. And those thoughts have revealed some interesting ideas about self and writing that I thought merited some sharing.

Firstly, it’s an affirmation of our ability to record moments, places and events through words. If readers can see it too, it means I was able to communicate.

But I think that if you felt what I felt, it means I have gone one step beyond simply communicating. It’s not just been me speaking to you. You have created the scene along with me too and it’s been like singing a duet together in tune if we’ve done it well.

While videos and photographs and any combination of such media are able to record moments much better than the written word in many ways, I am reminded once again through this sharing of experience that words leave a lot of space for both representation and interpretation in their own way.

So what you saw or felt may not have been exactly the same as what I saw and felt and yet, we were able to make meaning together.

Yet, as the writer of the post on dawn or dusk or Summer, my pleasure was that I was able to be the guiding hand in the way that you visualized the quietness of the night or the burning heat of the sun. I was able to speak, to talk.

Not everyone feels the urge to talk about things they experience but anyone who has any inclination to write must necessarily love to share. That’s the nature of this art.

There are many ways of being a writer or a communicator in the world.

There is the didactic way where you love to speak to people rather than make meaning through sharing experiences. And there is this other mode where you can revel in the fact that you were able to make others feel what you felt, see what you saw. Together.

So even as you wrote about dawn breaking over your own city through sharp, jagged outlines of buildings across a flat blue river, a reader somewhere was imagining dawn breaking over his own city over smooth domes and spires across an undulated yellow desert.

And you both imagined something together, same yet different through your description of dawn.

You both changed a little bit for the other.

And that is what I find amazing about writing.

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16 thoughts on “Writing and experience”

  1. You have such a way about you! Writing is almost an endless cycle of giving and taking from which we have to take a little time to breathe, eat, and sleep in order to live, experience, write, read, and think.

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  2. I think it’s validating to get feedback on what you write. It helps us know that we’re doing what we wanted too, and we’re reaching people in the best way we know how. I always love your posts. They’re packed with imagery.

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  3. I loved your thoughts on writing and sharing – , so validating for a writer like me, who sometimes wonders if I’m being self-indulgent wanting others to know what I saw or felt !
    And loved the way you saw the partnership between writer and reader..
    I always feel as though I’m talking to friends as I write…

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  4. Yes, yes, and yes. And this really points to the importance of “place” in writing. When I write out of my head, I get “likes” and a comment or two. When I write about a place with the eyes of my heart, people see me in person and say, “Man, I wish I could be there!” Sensory detail is magic.

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  5. I think I fit into the “talking to people” category most of the time. Good points. Isn’t this a wonderful craft?

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