A lot of things in life take my breath away:
- The "Hallelujah Chorus," from Handel's Messiah. I've heard it probably a thousand times in my life—and my heart still swells with the crescendo and glory of the conclusion.
- The sunrise every morning, even though I can't see most of it through tall buildings. That's the biggest reason my heart longs for the country.
- The memory of people I know and love who are in heaven—and the knowledge that someday I'll be there too.
- Curtis's face when he buys me flowers, or does the dishes, or sees me after I've been at work all day.
There are more, many more, but then you'd be bored and I'd get too distracted.
As a writer, I'm constantly looking for other writers who can make me feel and take my breath away. I read a lot of things every day—and many of them leave me completely unmoved. Writing can be perfectly functional, but it can still leave me uninspired and uninterested. It's a consistent treat to read something excellent.
Today, I read three things that took my breath away.
The first is a casual obituary, more of a tribute, written by Jerry Jenkins about Kent Puckett. I started reading by accident, as I flipped through a 7-year-old publication looking for ideas for a project I'm working on. What began as a casual glance turned into elbows on the desk and complete absorption. I've never heard of Kent Puckett until today—but after reading a 400 word tribute, I feel like I know him. I'm happy for him that he's in heaven, but suddenly I'm missing someone I've never met. Jenkin's concluding remarks are as follows:
This marks an outstanding piece of writing. Well done, Mr. Jenkins. (Click here to read the whole tribute.)
The second is an email from a friend. Writer's block is something I write about with relative frequency, because I experience it with relative frequency. Whenever I have it, I write about it. It's always vaguely startling when someone tells you something about yourself that you didn't know. Then when you hear it or read it, you can actually hear the thud of the hammer on the nail. Today, a friend gave me advice on writer's block—but it was really advice about life. After rereading the email a half dozen times, I printed it off to put in my special book of writing that has warmed me, cheered me, chilled me, and inspired me. It concluded,
I promptly threw out all my French berets when I got home. (Just kidding. Haven't owned one since I was a kid—my brother got me this cool maroon beret for either Christmas or my birthday one year, and I wore it every day until the Fourth of July. I think since then it's gone the way of all the world.)
The third and final is a book. For my birthday, Curtis (he's very wonderful) got me How to Write Best Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz. After opening it and seeing the font and and formatting (and because the cover is BRIGHT ORANGE with BRIGHT YELLOW letters), I checked the copyright date. It's 1981. Almost dinosaur ancient—but, my parents are proof that good things did happen in the 1900s before I was born, so I kept reading.
And it's absolutely excellent. It's a personable, humorous, helpful how-to book about writing, publishing, and editing, but mostly writing. It's spectacular. The title of chapter three:
I've added something else to my list of personal goals: I'd like to learn how to take someone's breath away (in a brief, good sort of way) with my writing.