Possession

A few years ago, I came across this survey, and I’ve been trying to read all the books I hadn’t already read, with a few exceptions for personal taste and a few repetitions of personal favorites. I recently finished reading Possession by A.S.Byatt, a book which I found entirely because of this list and wouldn’t have otherwise known about. “Wow” would be the best description, I think. This book reads like Mozart sounds. It’s absolutely mind-bogglingly amazing. Just wow.

I don’t even aspire to write this well. I’m not smart enough or talented enough. I don’t have enough words. And I certainly don’t have enough practice, coming to it so late. It’s a book that, in the past, would have scared me off writing, because I couldn’t possibly be this good. It still does, a little. Why put myself to the trouble of writing when I can just read something like that, that’s so far beyond my imagination? But then, I am a runner, and I love running, even though I’ll never run a marathon in under two and half hours (or anywhere near it) or win an olympic medal. Now, unlike a year ago, I can read this astounding book and be not exactly inspired, because it’s so far beyond my reach, but undaunted. I can’t do that, but I can do something. Not everyone can be that good, and not everyone has to be. Sometimes, I read books like this one and stand back in awe, but sometimes I read Harlequins and fly through them in an afternoon. And I read and truly enjoy almost everything in between. Just because it’s not the best thing ever written doesn’t mean that a book isn’t good for the purpose it serves and isn’t worth writing and reading.

So, even though I couldn’t dream of such talent, I can still write. Now the problem isn’t that I’m scared off writing but that I’m scared off sharing it. What if someone read something I wrote just after finishing Possession? I can only suffer in the comparison. Fortunately, since nothing is finished yet, I have a while yet to work up to that. And, truth be told, I’ve been scared of sharing for a long long time. Have you read anything that made you step back and say, “Wow, how’d they do that?!”? Does it intimidate you or inspire you?

 

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