What makes a book great?
What makes anything great, really?
There’s a lot of different reasons, with varying degrees of validity. Books, for example, are good when the writing skill comes through in the prose, the storycrafting elements are well executed, and the content of the story is tantalizing, thought provoking, draws you in and makes you actively wonder what will happen next.
But ultimately, what really makes a book, or anything, great, is the passion you can feel in it.
Passion is visible, feel-able, through solid wall and open sky from miles away. And I don’t mean specifically romantic passion. Sure, it can be that too, but in this case I mean the internal passion that is not self-serving. It’s not about wanting. It’s about that which means so much that you feel compelled to share it because you don’t know what else to do.
You can tell the difference between a well-written book and a well-written book that comes from a fire inside the writer. A book that the writer felt in his or her blood, one that screamed in his or her mind to come out, one that grips the heart of the reader in its fist–That book leaves the reader shaken in the best way, thinking about their life and what they love. And hopefully, it ignites passion in those readers.
Passion can be a limited resource. A precious gem, something that can be poured out and take shape, or can wane and be lost, formless and ethereal. It can be given, inspired, which is an act of love and beauty.
Passion is one of the greatest things in life. It’s dangerous, it can be scary, it can consume us in its immolating fire and trigger fear of loss or failure. But still, it is worth it. Passion can take so many forms, and should never be taken for granted, should be hunted and treasured and fought for.
Sometimes I’m writing a story, and I know it’s good, but something feels missing. And I have to step back, and take some time. What was it that burned inside me so much that I took the years to write this series? What was that which boiled my blood and kept me up at night, that surged adrenaline through me just at the thought of the reader taking in the words? That is what I want. That’s what I must continue to write.
That’s the way I want to keep trying to live.