What to give readers

Novelist Michael Cunningham’s wonderful essay on writing, published on Sunday, October 3, 2010 in The New York Times, is getting all kinds of attention on the writing blogs. So why not this one as well?

Cunningham, author most notably of The Hours and most recently of By Nightfall, uses the theme of translation to talk about, among other things, the writer-reader connection. These two short passages, quoted in reverse order from his essay, crystallize for me what we aspiring storytellers should be aiming for as we write, and workshop, and revise, and, we hope, publish.

“Writing is not only an exercise in self-expression, it is also, more important, a gift we as writers are trying to give to readers.”

And the qualities of that gift we want the reader to receive?

“Any good reader needs: absorption, emotion, momentum and the sense of being transported from the world in which she lived and transplanted into another one.”

If you haven’t already, I urge you to read Cunningham’s entire piece.

—Alex McNab

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Published in: on October 5, 2010 at 10:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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