JOHN OSTRANDER: Completing The Circuit
I love reading. Central to my being a writer is the fact that I love reading. I’ve always wanted to give back the pleasure I’ve gotten from it. I love when a writer pulls me into the world that they’ve created. It’s a magic act; words are used like spells to stimulate the senses. I see, I hear, I feel, I can even taste or smell depending on how adept the writer is and the words they use.
I love television and movies and other media as well but, for me, reading demands an active level of participation on my part. My imagination gets engaged, I think and I feel, heart and mind are involved. I feel I am in a conversation with the writer when the work is good.
Think of a toggle light switch. In the off position, the current doesn’t flow and the lights are not on. Flip it and the connection is completed and the light shines. Writing and reading are like that. The work exists but it is only when it is picked up and read that the circuit is completed.
The reader brings him or herself to the work, just as the writer does. What the readers take out of it depends on who they are. I have people write to me about the stories I’ve written and I always find it interesting; sometimes they find things here that I didn’t know was there myself. More often, they tell me things about themselves and that’s fascinating.
There is something alive in the work. Shakespeare is performed all over the world every day; Someone once said somewhere in the world he’s performed every hour of every day. The key is that his words still resonate on topics that are vital to our daily experience. They impact and influence people, change the way life is perceived. Shakespeare’s mind reaches us through the centuries and talks to us. The circuit is completed.
It’s not just Shakespeare. Charles Dickens lives as well and never more so than in this season. Don’t just watch A Christmas Carol – read it. I have yet to see any version – film, television, or stage – that captures the social commentary within the written work. It’s almost contemporary in its question of wealth, class, and our responsibility to our fellow human beings. One of the most powerful yet least used portions in the story is how young Scrooge, stuck at school for the holidays, finds comfort in books and how they come alive for him.
It’s not only with the writers who are dead. Think of contemporary living writers that you know, that you love. You may never meet them in person and yet you feel there is a bond between you and that writer, that you know them. When you read a good book, when it swallows you in, there is a now that you experience, that you create with the writer. The connection is complete; the current flows.
Make your life richer. Go read.
MONDAY: Mindy Newell