I save book quotes. It’s more of a habit than an obsession at this point. There are notes on my phone, post-its on my computer monitor. Sometimes I take physical highlighters to paper, because I do it so sparingly that it still means something significant when I do.
Most often, I save the quotes that relate to me the most in that moment, if I happen to stumble across them. It’s sort of like how people pick verses out of a Bible when they need to be spoken to. Words are important to me. But most of all, they make me feel less alone.
Sometimes, even when I’m not reading something that’s going to speak directly to my life (e.g., Hit Makers), I search for quotes online. Random ones. Anything will do.
I never realized until tonight–searching for quotes about something to keep myself from posting a rant on Facebook, to be honest–why I do this. Why do I seek out random quotes, or pluck them out of books when they leave marks on my heart? Why is it so important?
In large part, it’s because I’m a writer. Literature was my first love. I don’t remember the first time a book’s words mirrored my life, my feelings, my fears–but I know it had to be amazing. If it weren’t, I might not have gone down the path I did. You know the one–the road paved with themes and motifs and characters you come to call friends, even if only imaginary.
But I also savor pieces of writing because I am a creative person. And everyone knows all ideas are born from very small fragments of things that already exist.
When I write, I need to make sure my writing is relatable somehow. I need my characters to think and feel things other people have thought and felt. I need them to experience things others have experienced. That’s how a reader and a character connect. They have something in common. They understand each other.
I don’t write fiction as often as I once did. But one of the reasons I’ll never be able to let it go is because I know what it’s like to be that person, feeling down, searching for a string of words that says all the things I can’t bring myself to say.
I know what it’s like to need to know someone, somewhere, gets me.
That’s why we have to write from our hearts. That’s why we have to write the truth–even when it’s hard and when it hurts. Because people read for many different reasons. And some of them do so because they’re hoping someone out there–even if they’re fictional–understands how they are feeling. Knows what they are thinking. Has the power within them to conquer their fears and earn their successes.
I don’t write to become quotable. But I do write in such a way that, if someone were to come to my words looking to fill a specific need, to calm a certain anxiety, to affirm a certain belief, maybe I could be of some kind of help somehow.
How cool is it, that we can do that–write something that speaks to the hearts of people we’ve never met?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.