I have often seen the writing as intrinsically connected to the process of reading, not in the sense that we need to read lots to be good writers (though that is true), but on a more profound level, that both disciplines are creative and imaginative acts. I would go so far as to say that a writer never really finishes a work – that this is the reader’s role and that, as a result, each novel is read in a profoundly personal and unique manner. A miracle takes place: water becomes wine; word becomes flesh.
I was reminded of this when reading A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, my equal favourite from the 2013 Booker Shortlist. Woven into the plot is a wonderful reflection on the relationship between the reader and the writer. This takes on magic realist qualities towards the end of the novel when one of the narrators, Ruth, finds empty pages at the back of the book she is reading: the diary of a young girl, Nao. As Ruth lives and dreams and comes to terms with her own life as a writer, the pages fill up again. What results is a fusing of the reader’s life and experiences with the words of the the writer. A wonderful metaphor the special relationship between those who write and those who read. Imaging my work being ‘completed’ in this way by readers around the world, thrills and delights me. What a privilege it is to write and to be read.