Monday, July 18, 2005

Words don't come easily.

Maybe they do for some. Maybe it's as simple as firing up the computer, opening a new page, and letting it rip. Maybe the transfer of thought from mind to written word is smooth and seamless and somehow less... terrifying.

Take JK Rowling, for instance. Seems like yesterday that I succumbed to popular advice and opened a (violet? blue?) book with a somewhat tackily-illustrated cover called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. And here I am, four (five?) years later, 514 pages into The Half-Blood Prince (or HP6 as Constant Readers will have it), and it's all I can do to complete this post and return to Dumbledore telling Harry to get his Invisibility Cloak and meet him in the Entrance Hall.

Not the most stunning user of the English langage, Ms. Rowling, but blessed with vision and a sense of scale and progression and simplicity. What makes her special, though -- to me, at least -- is her almost-tangible comfort with the written word.

I've certainly read better writing. But the best writers I've read would strain for the ease with which she writes. Maybe it comes from the fact that the story is more important than the way in which it is told. Maybe each of us is genetically programmed to respond to the conflict between good and evil. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Harry Potter and He Who Must Not Be Named.

Maybe. Or maybe there's magic in natural, unselfconscious, uncrafted writing.

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