Helping the hallucination
Reminds me of how good design is invisible / seamless as well
Fantastic article, Nat.
Nat, this is a really nice piece.
(It's funny, since I have a post on writing well scheduled for my own newsletter going out Friday. Something about great minds -- though my mind is probably mediocre, at best).
I love that you keyed in on the invisibility of great writing: to write well is to make reading seamless. I think a lot of writers run into trouble when they try to get too cute with their writing -- when they write to impress reader (but really, to impress themselves). When you read something, your first inclination shouldn't be "wow, this writer really thought about this sentence before writing it!"; instead, the sentence (and overall piece) should wash over you like a wave. "Wow, that was powerful," in retrospect.
I think to write well is to write authentically. What was authentic for Hemingway is not what was authentic for Joyce is not what was authentic for cummings is not what was authentic for Foster Wallace. Great writing is authentic writing and authentic writing writing is inherently invisible. It's thought-less, without being thoughtless.
(I probably got too cute with that one.)
I work as an editor, and this piece reveals how much that affects my reading experience. I rarely find writing invisible because I’ve trained myself to look at writing with a certain intensity.
Maybe I’ll focus on switching mental states before I read for pleasure. I bet my hallucinations would be more vivid. Nice work, Nat!
This is beautiful Nat. This idea that great writing makes people forget they're reading is powerful. I reread Harry Potter recently and was struck by how such simple language created such vivid imagery in my mind.