You know the feeling when you read a good book? No, not a good book — a great book, a phenomenal book, the kind of book that feels as if it were written precisely for you. I do. And that elating, indulgent, precious feeling is exactly why I do not have a favorite author.
I have one book stands.
I’ve spent several sleepless nights reading and re-reading the perfectly poetic prose of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. I’ve spent many an afternoon curled up in my windowsill with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. I’ve spent countless evenings imagining myself a faceless extra, one of the glamorous flappers dancing in a party from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
When my eyes devour the last word and my fingers close the back cover over the rest of the book, I sit there in adoration, feeling equal parts destined writer and fat-fingered illiterate. I know that I must write — and yet — that my writing will never scratch the door of the vault these greats inhabit.
I take my book back to the bookshelf. I place it on a shelf next to its brothers and sisters, titles by the same author, purchased as a reward or a consolation from my local secondhand book store. I consider picking one of these up. After all, if its sibling spoke to my soul so eloquently, surely its whispers would be just as divine.
But what if they’re not?
What if that one book is all I get from that author? What if the next is an utter disappointment, undeniable proof that my beloved novel is a fluke? What if I read a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence only to discover that the author I thought understood me at the deepest level is a hack, a con artist, who knows nothing of human nature?
And what if, when I am a published author, this happens to one of my readers?
I take my hands away from spines.
Maybe I turn to a series. Series are like reading one story in huge chunks — no risk of variation from an author there.
Maybe I turn to a different author, a dependable author. I wouldn’t call Nicholas Sparks my favorite, but he sure delivers each romance in cookie-cutter form — no surprises, easy satisfaction.
Maybe I follow Toni Morrison’s (another one book stand of mine) advice, ignore my fear, and go write the book that I have always wanted to read.
Maybe I pick up an entirely new author, carry this unknown wordsmith’s book into my bed, and begin the process anew.
And maybe, just maybe, I write a blog post. Because, for some reason, calling into the void and seeing my words echo on the pages on the internet is the least nerve-wracking option.