votive candles, st. john the divine

A piece of fiction is a communication. You're sending an urgent message in a bottle from your desert island. You hope that somebody's going to find the bottle and open it and say, S...O...X? No. S...O...

But the message that is found cannot be exactly the message you've sent. Whatever bunch of words the writer transmits requires a person, a consciousness on the other end, to reassemble it. You know how it feels when you read something that opens up a little sealed envelope in your brain. It's a letter from yourself, but it's being delivered by somebody else, a writer.

Nothing is more fortifying than learning that you have a real reader, a reader who truly responds both accurately and actively. It gives you courage, and you feel, I can crawl out on the branch a little further. It's going to hold.

(deborah eisenberg to catherine steindler in "the art of fiction no. 218," the paris review spring 2013)

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