Thoughts and words

There are some writers who are able to capture a thought in such a way that, with a flash of recognition, the words click your own thoughts into place or they manage to reach inside, somehow, and your own thinking gets a little bigger.

Emily Dickinson has always done this for me.

Jeanette Winterson in her autobiography.

Overheard passages from Anaïs Nin.

The experience is different to reading or to recognising the world in whatever you are reading. It is different to the sound of words and the meaning of a story. It is more fragmented and goes deeper. Like stumbling over pieces of a puzzle. Burrowing phrases which seem to make the world make sense.

There was a post on Brain Pickings a while back which had the same impact. An illustrated poster of Susan Sontag’s words that set off lightbulbs and echoed the questions I have been asking. Sometimes, even if the answers are different, this is enough.

I wanted to write about it here so that, when I am scrabbling around for words or feel myself wandering, it is easy to find, and because they struck me so powerfully that it is hard not to share.

These are some of the bits that stood out –

“One can never ask anyone to change a feeling”

“Mad people = people who stand alone and burn. I am attracted to them because they give me permission to do the same.”

“Nothing is mysterious, no human relation, except love”.

There are a million and one things to write about reading. I had forgotten that one of the things that amazes me most is the answers that you can find buried amongst the words. Sudden phrases that express or resolve a question. Truths that you only recognise when they are put into words. The voices that come up from decades and centuries ago that sounds like – or help you to understand – your own.


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