“A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us.”
Just recently, I had the good fortune to discover a movingly written blog called “Melissa’s Write of Passage” on WordPress. It’s a place of heartbreak and healing. Little wnder then, that Melissa has found a kindred spirit in Roger Rosenblatt, an author whose memoirs Making Toast and Kayak Morning dive deeply into his grief at losing his daughter Amy, the mother of two young children, who died suddenly at age 38. Here’s what Melissa says of Roger’s writing: “One paragraph of him and I want to huck anything I evr wrote and start all over, one hand and all adjectives tied behind my back. Intimate. Precise. Reducd. Penetrable. Bruised. Wryly funny. And rumbling with electricity like thunder in your breast pocket.”
What a lovely tribute! Melissa also quotes a passage from Roger’s book Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Art and Craft of Writing, that I wanted to share with you:
“You must write as if your reader needed you desperately, because he does. If, as Kafka has said, a book is an ax for the frozen sea within us, then write with that frozen sea in mind and in view. See your reader, who has fallen through the ice of his own manufacture. You can just make him out, as he flails in slow motion, palms pressed upward under the ice. Here’s your ax. Now, chop away and lift him up by the shoulders. And what do you get out of this act of rescue? You save two people: your reader and yourself. Every life is exposed to things that will ruin it, and often do, for a time. But there is another life inside us that remains invulnerable and glimpses immortality. For the writer that life exists on the page, where it attaches itself to every other life, to all the lives that have been and will be.”
What an incredible passage — now that’s writing dangerously! I love what Roger says about “another life” that “glimpses immortality” which we, as writers, find on the page. Our pens are not only axes that chop through the frozen sea within us all, but they are also arrows, flying out into a vast world, landing who knows where or when. Write on!