When I read books that inspire me, it’s as if the author’s inner light is illuminating the text from behind—casting shadows. These shadows can range in quality and intensity. Some are soft around the edges. Other shadows are sharp enough to make me bleed with emotion. Still others wrap around me with the quiet grayness of an overcast day. Sometimes I blend with the shadows and become grey-blue, or charcoal-black.
Frances Mayes’s memoir, Under the Tuscan Sun, soothes me with rosemary-infused shadow.
Barbara Kingsolver’s essays about the environment or human rights issues emit hard shadow with knife-sharp edges.
Anne Lamont’s essays about her spiritual journey touch me with long shadows from a low, intense sun.
Barbara O’Neal’s women’s fiction is a mix of dappled shadow and flickers of brightness.
Jim Butcher’s wizard Harry Dresden books have inky shadows that slither around me, making my heart race.
As writers, we illuminate our words with the deepest part of ourselves. I find that an exciting prospect. How will our words cast forth and touch our readers? What emotion or inspiration will be drawn out as a result? I believe it boils down to being true to one’s self; one’s strengths; and one’s depth of experience.
Dare to shine—to blaze-out and cast your shadows on the world.