Fine Arts Column: Beyond words


I have always found it incredibly fascinating the way a simple phrase, poem, or story could purely captivate the mind of a person.

Even as a child who despised reading, I understood that there was a carefully balanced amount of technique, imagination, intimacy, and art in the world of literature. And this from a little girl who thoroughly enjoyed writing stories and poems. I did not understand until later that it was almost impossible to truly become a great writer without being a great reader first.

It would be like becoming a bicycle maker while hating the idea of riding one. (I use this example because I do in fact have a subtle fear of bicycles … it is a long story.) The more I grew to love reading the more I understood that power which is held within our own language if one can learn to harness it and expose it.

It is quite interesting actually because many of us, myself included, have probably remarked at one time or another how limited words can be. No matter the language, most people can recall at least a few times in their life when they were rendered utterly speechless because of something that was either incredibly beautiful or incredibly sorrowful. Words could not satisfy the extreme emotion and craziness exploding in our mind at that moment, and that astounds us to the point of even further silence, it seems.

This is the primary reason why I believe that this form of fine art, literature, can sometimes go underrated. A writer has the job of putting into words that which leaves most people unable to speak clearly, and a good one will not only do this well but also in a way that keeps our minds 100 percent tuned in.

So why does it go so unnoticed at times? My guess is for the same reason I used to hate reading: I did not want to think that hard. Please, let me explain this. Obviously no one would truly say, “I do not like to think,” but many could probably agree in private that it may be the underlying cause of such a distaste, or at least in my case it was.

One would think that, as a dancer, I would have understood the power in literature for its imagination and creativity, but nope … I was sucked into the world of mindless television. I do still love movies and video games, do not get me wrong, but I see greater opportunity for knowledge in literature. (I am a Ravenclaw, after all.)

This is exactly why I wish more people could learn to love reading as I learned. It is so much more than just words on a page. It is hours upon hours of imagination, creativity, research, drafting, building, fixing, exploring and experiencing emotions for both the writer and the reader. When you read, you open your mind to a whole new level of creation that truly does exist in its own mystical, beautiful, and almost tangible way.

In our fast-paced world of instant gratification, fewer and fewer people are allowing themselves to be immersed in the soothing quality of losing yourself in a good book or poem. Reading forces you to slow down, and as Christians this is an essential lifestyle we need to grasp. You can’t grow in the Lord with instant everything, no … you have to slow down, and learning to love reading for the first time or more so than before is a good way to tap into that.

You will not probably like every single book or author, but you just have to find your area, if you will. I have a great amount of respect for my friends who are in the writing business because their task is incredibly difficult, just like any art form. But hey, if you love it, you will go far … I believe that, anyway. Literature is beyond simple words—it is a world of its own that I wish more people could and would encounter.