The power of an explosively good book.

Oh, the intensity of feeling between readers and their beloved books! 

We want explosive stories. |


I love how this quote redirects my busy, distracted writerly mind.

My ultimate goal is not to rewrite four pages a day; it isn't to finish this draft by the end of August; it isn't even to lock in my morning date with my dictionary. (Though I do keep aiming for those good things!)

Nope, my goal is to write a book that readers love. Ultimately, my goal is to love readers, to love people. And I happen to be doing that by writing the best darned novels I can manage to write.

That's the real story. The true focus.

It's good to get those priorities right again. Otherwise I feel like I'm my own personal assistant, running around with an overflowing to-do list and too many extenuating circumstances and a terrible need for an extremely long vacation. I'm worried about editing, about word choice, about finding better support systems.

Busy, rushing, fractious.

But this quote gets me thinking like a reader again.

And I remember those reading experiences where I felt pulled into a vortex of words and ideas, when I did not stop reading until the book was done. Dillard is right: I always do want fiction to blow my whole day. 

Every single time.

I don't want readers to get to the last page of my novels and think, "Man, I bet this girl has her process down to a fine science. I bet she's well-rested every morning, and floats through her day like a benevolent fairy." (Sometimes I think this is the kind of writer I'm supposed to be.)

They're not going to close the book and think, "This one had a minimal to-do list. Good for her. She managed her time well." 

I want them to close the book with their eyes wide. I want them so full of new ideas and character voices and settings that they can't sit still.

I want them to feel that the world is bigger, beauty is real, redemption is possible, and they are truly loved. 

How I get the book done? It doesn't actually matter that much. Not really. Not in the long run. 

Loving people, loving readers, writing the best darn books. That's what matters. 

A book of fiction was a bomb. It was a land mine you wanted to go off. You wanted it to blow your whole day. -- Annie Dillard, from An American Childhood

So, what are your most vivid reading memories? What books have blown up your whole day? Let's swap stories and book recommendations down in the comments.