Is there anyone you know that can pull your heart strings and play with your emotions with such thoughtless provocation as “I wanted to see your reaction?”
Is there anyone you know that is willing to push you to the brink of tears and then freeze you for an entire chapter before you are allowed to see if your urge to cry is justified?
Is there anyone in your life who is a thoughtless murderer, taking people you love from you in the most heartless way?
Yeah, they’re probably a writer.
Writers know better than anyone how easy it is to be caught up in a story and fall in love with the characters, but still they choose to murder, steal, misrepresent, and leave you wondering if a piece of your heart is going to be crushed.
It is rakishly cruel to use a reader’s natural inclination for thrills to bring them to their knees repeatedly. Of course you must pick up the book in the first place, but then from there you are an innocent, lured and imprisoned in a network of words and trapped inside your own mind, locked out of the real world by mystery and intrigue put at your fingertips.
It is the most miraculous drug deal in the world that a book can make us feel things that aren’t there and experience worlds that don’t exist, so that we know there is magic, that there are dragons, that we can taste foods never seen and drink from wells never dug.
Those who see a reader from the outside wonder at the glazed expression and faintly moving mouth. They wonder what has happened and if we have lost our wits entirely. They do not know that the images before our glassy eyes are images of war, love, grief, joy, and such pain as can only be seared on the deepest parts of our hearts. Our feet twitch like a hanged man as we run down roads paved with cobblestone instead of asphalt and we turn books of magic over in our hands, not leather and not paper.
Yes a writer is a cruel creature. Like an assassin with a long knife an author lifts a pen and puts down magical runes, characters that every mother’s son can read and understand. What manner of witchcraft is it that ink on wood can thrust us through a portal, or into a time warp? In those places the reader becomes a killer too, urged on by the beckoning of ink on wood to lift the dagger ourselves and deal with this monster who has hurt our friends and slaughtered our allies, who has scarred our loved one and cast our family in disarray.
But what can we do? We are all of us addicts to a universal drug, one that does not deaden our minds but vitalizes them. So which is worse, false images and imagined scenarios, or only facts without imagination? For without imagination we would be dead, our prowess and vitality defeated by boredom and monotony. Imagination is God’s gift.