Friday, October 30, 2009

I Want to Burn You to the Ground

And this isn't even about The City of Windsor!

No, really, I swear. (Plus, you know, the city won't burn too well once it collapses into the Detroit River)

Here, a clue on the real topic:

Some of the genre/Lit talk over at Nathan Bransford's got me thinking, as a lot of people mentioned what they want out of a book they read, whether escape, entertainment or enlightenment. Which in turn made me flip that idea around and wonder about what it is I want my own writing to do to a reader?

Not easy, really, as the answer is likely variable. I don't want the same thing from everything I write. I mean, sometimes I just want to get a laugh. And entertaining is good... but in the end I want the reader to feel something, to experience something outside themself. And yet maybe even more than that... I suppose my deepest ambition is to write something searing. I want to pry a situation open and let out the pent up heat. I want the reader to feel their skin parch. No answers offered... only questions, only the heat of an almost ungraspable experience.

I think that's what I want. That something I write (someday) will burn you to the ground.

So, after kicking off the ashes, what is it that you want for your readers? No wrong answers! I mean, that's even better than fill-in-the-blank. Hell, it's even better than multiple choice. (Thank you, psychology department, for always having easy exams. Oh a, b, c, d and sometimes e, I love you so)


L. T. Host said...

I'm going to jack someone else's recent answer from somewhere in the blogosphere and say, I want to make them think.

Yeah, that's what I want.

And pity-- it doesn't sound like the City of Windsor would be terribly missed, anyway...

Susan Quinn said...

I'm writing for kids (right now).

I want to feed their imaginations, be the spark that makes them conjure their own stories.

I want to capture their imagination, so that they're still puzzling through what I've written days later and saying, "Wait, what? How does that work? Does that mean . . . ?"

I want to open their minds, give them flashes of wait, I've never thought of that before. I want to pose moral dilemnas to them and say, "Who are you? What would you do?"

Sigh. Now, I just have to get it all down on paper.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

I’d like to leave my readers feeling happy and perhaps a bit thoughtful. And, of course, eager to run out and buy my next book!

Sounds like the City of Windsor is on the brink of extinction/or something – I was hoping to get there one day to see my GGGGG grandparents house (now museum) – should I be concerned? :)

Ink said...


The problem with Windsor is that even if it fell into the River few people would actually notice the difference.

"Weird... I swear this street used to be a lot longer. Oh well."

Ink said...


I suppose you can't burn the kids to the ground. There's probably a law or something.

Ink said...


Be concerned! Be very concerned! There's a great contagion going around up here. Swine flu? No! Stupidity. Apparently it's gone viral.

Susan Quinn said...

There's probably a law or something.

Probably not in the City of Windsor. :)

Writing something that will incinerate your readers and force them to rise up again from the ashes - that's some ambition, my friend. What works have had this affect on you?

Me: Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand

Donna Hole said...

I agree Bryan: I don't want the same thing from every piece I write. In my short stories, I pretty much just want to entertain. I want to tell a good story and have people remember it - and the author.

In my novel work, however, I want to inform and captivate a specific audience. No, I don't have a platform, but I'm hoping many people will think about the message in my project, and look to their friends and family in a whole new light.

I don't expect them to do anything about what they read, merely be aware. So, yeah, I too wish to "burn you to the ground" of misconceptions.

We'll see if that's possible in today's "just entertain me" society.


Ink said...


That's good. Platforms scare me. I might fall...

Ink said...


Good question! Scorchy books...

A few of my favourites:

Strange Piece of Paradise, by Terri Jentz (a memoir, and dear God is it brilliant and ravaging)

Blood Meridian, Or, The Evening Redness in the West, by Cormac McCarthy (if The Road is my favourite of his books, this might be the best... and most searing. And I put the whole title in because it's luscious and because no one ever does.)

The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. (A novel about the Vietnam War by one of the world's great writers)

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, by Tadeusz Borowski. (Holocaust stories. If they don't strip a few of those useless layers off your soul I don't know what will)

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (A novel of civil war in Africa. Brilliant, beautiful and horrible)

Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem. (His best book... though this one might be searing more for personal reasons - though it'll always be great)

Susan Quinn said...

Wow. I would have to take those in measured doses, I think.

Except for the Holocaust stories - those I might not be able to endure. I heard a Holocaust survivor speak in college and still carry the ashes in my heart from that.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing what you write.

Mira said...

I want to transform my readers on a deep psychological level. I want to change them.

No, I'm not joking.

Let me know if you change your mind about burning down the City of Windsor. I've got some matches and a cigarette lighter. So I can help.

Marsha Sigman said...

Those are some seriously deep comments.

I want to write so well that you feel utter despair when you reach the last page, because the story is ending. I want you to laugh as you wipe away tears and turn back to the first page to read it all over again.

Burning something down is good too.

Ink said...


...turn back to the first page... Hey, I like that one. Who needs other books? :) I shall be all books for all people!