Home > in which I write about authors as people, prose, Random Musings, Writing > The Glint on Broken Glass: This is the Book I Meant to Write

The Glint on Broken Glass: This is the Book I Meant to Write


This is the book I meant to write.

I pointed at it, silently. I said nothing. All I saw, staring back at me, was a version of my own story. The one scrawled out in coffee shops, on benches, late at night in bed. Words written while waiting, or while hiding, stealing moments like ill-gotten cookies.

That’s me. I steal things. I steal moments. You’d never know it from my smile. I’m a kleptomaniac of emotions, an empathetic endorphin junkie, a misguided muse-seeker.

I’m also very vague when it suits me. Back to the point, which is the book I meant to write – but didn’t.

First of all, the first manuscript I ever complete was several years ago. I was about 23. (For those keeping track, I am 29 now.) I cheated on that manuscript with the next one I finished, but it was a brief fling. I believe, among other things, in Current Work-in-Progress Fidelity. I’m just not always good at sticking to it. Do as I say, not as I do.

The first two manuscripts told decent stories, but I know now that they’re just not what they should be. Parts of them are self-indulgent. Parts are me figuring out how to write – because I was used to academic writing, and it had been an appallingly long time since I’d tried my hand at prose. I’ve made my peace with those first two books. They are, and were, learning tools. I’m a better writer now for having written them.

Someone, though, has written my story. Not literally mine (not, that is to say, based on my actual life). Someone has fashioned ghost-emotions into real ones, and I found myself with a quick pulse and unsteady heart, as I read about it the other day.

I’ve never seen a book as such a mirror before. But I have, now. I’ve seen its grace in the face of circumstance. I’ve seen it walk the line beautifully. I’ve seen it tell the kind of story I wanted to tell, but was previously unable to.

It makes me want to try again. It makes me want to drag it out, hack it up, and make it RIGHT. Somehow, I want to tell that story that I butchered. Well, maybe not butchered. Maimed, slightly.

I won’t. Not now. Someday, when I can look at it and not feel a pang of regret in every exhale. Someday, when I can remember that it is fiction, even though it bleeds like truth. Someday, when I feel as if I can do it justice. Today is not that day – but I’m not abandoning the idea.

Again, back to the point. This book I saw, the one that dances like a ghost, it feels like a betrayal. It feels like theft, as if someone stole a piece of my heart, without asking. Without warning. Without provocation. I realize that’s a lot like love, and that is something that also takes without question. A clever, condoned thief that sings, sometimes.

It’s been a very long time since a work of fiction seized me like this, shining light in a shadow that I’d thought long buried. Some things should stay there, secret, untouched. Some things should not rise like emotional zombies, searching for realization (not brains. Sorry.).

But they do. And this has reminded of that, for better or worse. Has a book ever shaken you, before? I won’t ask you to tell me why. I won’t even ask you which book.

Tell me how it made you feel, instead. Show me the glint of moonlight on broken glass (thank you, Chekhov). I want to see the gleam through your eyes.

  1. December 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Ali, this was beautiful. You have such a way with words, they just flow through me and melt my soul. It makes me want to hug you and simultaneously tear out your brain so I can steal your talent. 🙂

    I think it would make me literally sick to my stomach if I found out someone published MY book. It makes me so crazy that I want to sit down and do nothing but work on it right now, but alas Christmas tasks are a priority at the moment. Just out of curiosity, which book was it that made you feel this way? I never want to read it because I know yours will be better.

    • December 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

      Oh, gosh, Andrea — you are too sweet. Seriously. Thank you for the kind, sweet words. I’m really flattered. As for your book, I CAN’T WAIT TO READ IT. *ahem* As soon as the holidays are over, I will begin to prod you again. 🙂

  2. December 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Echoing Andrea, you do have a way with words, Ali. Your entry in Janet Reid’s competition (http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2011/12/gotcha-knickers-twisted-yo.html) is phenomenal. I’m totally impressed.

    I have read books that touched me, and spoke to me in very meaningful ways. And there have certainly been books I wish I’d written. But none yet that are my books, that tell my story.

    • December 20, 2011 at 10:09 am

      *blushing* Colin, I’m really honored by what you said. Thank you very much for the praise. Janet’s contests are always fun; I particularly enjoyed that one.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  3. December 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I love the way you write… always so clear and full of passion! I would just like to pass on something that someone once told me. It makes a lot of sense, now… No one could ever write what you write, even if it is on the same subject matter… remember, there are only seven stories in the world and different is… how you tell it! 🙂

    • December 20, 2011 at 10:07 am

      Thank you so much for the wonderful compliment, Ana!! And thank you for passing on that advice. You are right, of course. I needed that reminder!! 🙂

  4. Lou
    December 19, 2011 at 9:03 am

    You are such an inspiration. 🙂

    • December 20, 2011 at 10:07 am

      *blushing* Thank you, Lou!

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