February 8, 2014

Stop Reading to Climax.


I’m a huge Harry Potter junkie.

Generally speaking, I adore writers who become successful with little or no formal training (cough, cough—read my bio).

That said, what I’m not a huge fan of is how our society is moving further and further away from poetically descriptive prose and closer and closer to only caring about how many climatic scenes happen on the first page, to reel in our short attention spans.

Is it terribly shocking that we no longer want to read Tolstoy’s vivid—albeit long—personality sketches? Or Dickens’ perfect run-on sentences? Yet we do, however, want to read the latest trashy vampire series because there’s plenty of blood, biting and sex to enthrall.

It’s gross, really, the way that we’re continually becoming addicted to stress—the way that we thrive on overt action.

So when I decided to undertake publishing my novel in serial form on my website, my main goal was, in my own small way, to reconnect just a few readers with what it’s like to read something for content—because it transports us to a place we’ve never been or to a feeling that we’ve had but can’t properly describe—rather than for the sheer, extravagant showiness of it all.

I’ve published 12 mini-chapters thus far and a true climax has yet to happen. And are we okay with that? Because I’m not so sure.

I see what gets read—that gory image that will haunt after we’ve fallen asleep—that’s what got clicked on.

The partly naked girl showing off her yoga asana skills—that’s who got followed.

After all, who has the time to indulge in stories about the way the peachy-gold sun peeks through the tips of snow-dusted evergreens as I sit clickity-clacking, clickity-clacking on my laptop in my still-warm-from-sleep bed, when we can read one page of utter crap and feel something—anything—instantly?

And we’re all guilty—even those of us who still buy actual paper books and who attempt to write from a place of integrity. We’re all guilty because, in our own small ways, we can’t help but be addicted to stress—it’s nearly impossible to escape cell phones, Facebook, email, technology…technology…technology!

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with technology or widespread social media, it’s absolutely a distraction from real life.

And in real life, it’s the little moments that are the authentic climaxes.

It’s the sudden breaking of silence when a blue ceramic dish falls off the dining table and a piece of it detaches and launches across the wood floor.

It’s the way that thick clouds of snow whirl off the rooftop when an unexpected gust of wind sweeps in.

It’s the indescribable light behind a three-year old’s eyes when she sees your face for the first time that morning.

It’s the painful howl of a broken heart, calling out to the man in the full moon for an impossible rescue.

It’s the heroism of a stranger ringing up groceries, remaining kind with a smile loosely in place, despite the crotchety people she encounters.

Life is the accumulation of these little moments and when we gloss past them in order to find fancier, shinier zeniths, we’ve obviously forgotten what comes next: the nadir.

And all I’m asking—or, rather, suggesting—is that we stop being perpetually hurried and notice the spaces in between the ones we’re seemingly sprinting towards—because I don’t know about you, but I’m getting the feeling that when my final page is turned, I’ll wonder whatever that rush was for.



Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!


Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives

Read 2 Comments and Reply

Read 2 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Jennifer S. White  |  Contribution: 45,780