“Maybe the true purpose of my life is for my body, my sensations and my thoughts to become writing, in other words, something intelligible and universal, causing my existence to merge into the lives and heads of other people.“ — Annie Ernaux
Annie Ernaux, the Nobel Prize winner in this, her 82nd year on the planet, touches upon something every avid reader and writer feels: we transcend ourselves through words, merging into the lives of others. Sometimes those other lives are sitting across the table from us, where stolen glances search for progress and acceptance. But mostly, written words travel through time and space far better than we humans do, reaching people we’ll never meet, just as we’ll never meet those whose words merge into us. This is where the magic begins.
To become our writing is a deliberate act of transcendence, drafted one word at a time. It’s a bold act of betraying our previous identity, left on the shelf for others to discover or completely ignore, for as long as there are books and shelves to put them on. As a reader, don’t we delight in this quiet invitation into someone’s soul?
I write this knowing there’s a stack of books within arms reach just sitting there, marking time, waiting for me to return to them. We’re torn between two lovers, reading and writing, and must make time for each to reach our potential with either. We must live to take these words and make them our own, if only for a little while before we release them to merge with another. For existence is both transactional and transcendent. Words record, and carry on without us through others.