I was passing the remains of the Finest Collection of Everglades Animals attraction when River of Dreams rotated into the play list. The line about packing the Camaro and chasing the sun struck home. The visual was amazing. The flat scenery faded into the background and I was in a red Camaro heading for points unknown. The draw was irresistible. Pack it up, take it on the road, never look back and live simply in the mountains in a home you build yourself. Yep, Little House on the Prairie meets rock and roll. Pa Ingles stuffing his family into the ox cart. Follow your dream. Do what you always wanted to do, but never did. Live the life you should be living, chuck the make-do life you have now. Took me a good ten miles and an alligator crossing the road chasing a gopher tortoise to break the spell and see the cane fields again.
Writing that pulls you that deeply into the story world is good writing. It’s not limited to lyrics, but having the complete experience does seem more common when listening than reading. Maybe it’s more an aural event than a visual one. On the other hand, maybe it’s just me. It often happens to me when I listen to an audio book. It’s also happened when I listen to replays of old radio shows. No matter how you experience it, it’s an amazing feeling when it happens. A sweet spot, a tipping point you can’t predict, only experience. You enter the story and it happens to you, not around you. Magic.
Unfortunately, no writing school teaches the technique. And it’s different for every reader because the real secret is a connection that the reader has with the story at that particular moment. I’ve heard River of Dreams a thousand times. I never wanted to pack up my Camaro before, but right at that moment, the lyrics fit my desires. It’s happened with books too. James Clavell’s Taipan and Nobel House send me to Hong Kong and have me living in Happy Valley. Somewhere I’ve never been. Recently Krista Davis’s The Diva Wraps It Up had me standing on the streets of Old Town in a snowfall. It was refreshing. Especially because it was ninety-five degrees in my real world. There is a fullness to these stories and scenes that completely encompasses me. I want to live in those moments in those books.
What about you? Do you have books that you slip into like a second skin? Are they books you read repeatedly, or are they books that hold an appeal for a certain aspect and time of your life?