“You can write it all down, you can put it in your book of facts, but the truth is no one can ever really understand the tangle of experiences and passions that makes you who you are. It’s a select collection, a private language, a pebble in your pocket that you play with when you’re anxious, hard as geometry, smooth as soap.”
I adore the above snippet above from my seventh completed book of the year, Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, a collection of stories from the creator of BoJack Horseman, Raphael Bob-Waksberg. If you’ve watched the show, you’ll immediately recognize the BoJackian sense of solitariness.
And yes, I am way off my Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge of 13 books. Sigh.
This stringing together of words goes beyond writing, in my opinion. In fact, truly captivating writing never seems to start or end with words. It always starts with an idea, an emotion, or in this case, a universal truth.
After reading those few sentences, I felt different about myself and everyone I am close to. I thought to myself, “yes, that is EXACTLY what it is like to be a person.” The truth was conveyed so articulately that I forgot this passage actually had to be thought about, written, and then edited. It seems so obvious and imperative all of a sudden, like when you first learn that water is wet and fire is hot.
Writing of this caliber can give the impression that writing is the easiest and most natural thing in the world. Haha.
Compelling Writing is Easy to Read but Not So Easy to Write
That’s what makes it so impressive.
Maybe I’m underestimating his natural talent, but Bob-Waksberg probably toiled for awhile over those two sentences. The input is the geometry, methodical and brow-furrowing. The final product, what the reader reads, is the smooth and cleansing soap. How do people actually think about themselves? And when do they record these thoughts? How do you describe the relationship we have with our identity?
And then…the analogies wash over you like cold water, turning a fanciful idea to concrete, real imagery. What if he didn’t use “tangle of” experiences? What if “geometry” was replaced with “diamonds” and “soap” was replaced with “silk”?
It would change the meaning of this passage entirely.
Geometry and soap belong there, but I can’t help but wonder how many other similes he plugged in before finding perfect harmony in this sentence. The process of structuring these sentences is exactly like building a card tower, delicately arranged and easily toppled by a clumsy or inattentive hand.
Words, man. Is there anything more worthy of consideration?