Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Let's Talk Intimacy

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I prefer intimate settings to large gatherings, tête-à-tête shared over a glass of wine (or two) with a friend, or a friend in the making.

Maybe that’s why I gravitate to reading, to writing. Books are read one person at a time, a relationship between reader and author. It’s an intimacy that I don’t think exists with other story forms. I’m not sure watching a movie is an intimate experience, unless there’s an exterior circumstance to the viewing, someone snuggling into you.

It’s often said that writing is a solitary pursuit, and I’d agree. You need to be able (and willing) to spend time with yourself, to leave behind whatever distraction or delight beckons you to jump ship, to go off and do other things, anything, any thing, but write. You have to enjoy your own company enough to stay put inside your head, to build your house of story. But I’m mixing metaphors…

Whether a story house or a story ship, there’s always a reader peering through the window, through the porthole. While I’m writing, I try to look up from the computer every once in a while, to smile, and wave, and say – I know you’re out there, reader, be patient, soon I’ll invite you aboard my ship, into my house. We’ll share that glass of wine, you can read my book, and we’ll get intimate.

All this intimacy talk probably traces back to my childhood. My father wasn’t a reader, and I don’t recall him reading a book while I was growing up, except once. I had returned from the library with the first book I had ever borrowed, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. My mother was the reader in the family, and she probably read many books to me, but I don’t remember those occasions. What I do remember is this – sitting in the lap of my father, and his doing the most unexpected and wonderful thing – holding me close and reading to me.

The next time I went to the library, I checked out The Tale of Peter Rabbit again, from all the Beatrix Potter titles that filled the shelf. I felt embarrassed when my father refused to read the book to me a second time, wouldn’t let me crawl back up into his lap. I thought I had done something wrong, that I should have known better than to ask it of him.

My father was a practical man. What I realize now, that I didn’t realize as a child, was that to him, it was impractical to read the same book twice. He simply didn’t understand that it was the feeling of intimacy that I had wanted to recreate, the intimacy of story.

~ Marianne Paul

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Marianne Paul

Marianne Paul's is the author of the novels Dead Girl Diaries (BookLand Press, 2009), Tending Memory (BookLand Press, 2007), Twice in a Blue Moon (BookLand Press, 2007) and The Shunning (Moonstone Press, 1994). Her fiction, non-fiction and poems have appeared in publications such as Vox Feminarum, Cahoots, Canadian Author, Western People and The New Quarterly.

Go to Marianne Paul’s Author Page