Friday, September 23, 2011
My secret reader
From time to time I’m asked why I write.
It’s not because I want to create something that will last, or to see my name on the well-cracked spine of a book in a library, though these, too, are excellent reasons. It’s not because I have no choice. I can while away hours and days, lose myself in the everyday little: sparrow gazing, daycare runs, transactions and translations. It’s certainly not because I find it easy, or because I can’t think of anything else to do with my life. Writing costs, and having tried other paths, I’d say it’s pretty dear.
No. It’s because of her. You see, in the corner of my study, there is a big armchair. In the armchair sits a girl of eleven.
Her hair is cropped too short, and little spindly tufts are sticking out in weird places, mostly because it won't occur to her to wet her hair in the morning for several years still. But she doesn't pay the random curls any attention, she is too absorbed in her book. The pages keep turning, like the ticking of a very slow clock, and her eyes are shining, and it'll only be three more days until she puts the book down and says, "That was wonderful. What's next?"
If it were the eighties, in a small place too insignificant to be called a town, in the middle of Norway, the answer would be, “Nothing. After the Grey Havens, there’s nothing.” But it’s not, and I’m here typing like crazy so I can answer, "This is next. The Twistrose Key. You will love it."
Of course, the world has changed and expanded around her since then. Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Plain Kate, and there are so many places to visit now that she may never have to sit there, stunned and lost, fearing that the time of adventure is already over.
And yet it is always her I write for, not for myself, and never for the people looking over my shoulder.