My third blog-birthday passed the other day, without my realising it.
I've been rereading "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield - it's nonsense, really, but very good nonsense and I'm enjoying it a lot.
This is a quotation from it, and it expresses very well one of the reasons why I like writing: letters, diaries, the blog. It's also one of the reasons that I like reading. In case you haven't read it (and I recommend that you do) you need to know that the narrator works in a second-hand bookshop.
People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humour, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.
As one tends the graves of the dead, so I tend the books. I clean them, do minor repairs, keep them in good order. And every day I open a volume or two, read a few lines on pages, allow the voices of the forgotten dead to resonate inside my head. Do they sense it, these dead writers, when their books are read? Does a pinprick of light appear in their darkness? Is their soul stirred by the feather touch of another mind reading theirs? I do hope so. For it must be very lonely being dead.