I don’t know her. Except her name, that is. And that she is on the other side of the globe, speaking a language I know, but living in circumstances I know nothing of, in a culture that is unknown to me. Or was? I don’t know that either.

But through her words something seeps through, a familiarity, a connection, a strange sort of camaraderie. Have you been there too? I know what it’s like.

Through her words I get a glimpse of her. As though I have climbed into a tap, squeezed through the pipe against the flow of the water, and crawled all the way to its source. I see her. Or rather, I get to see a small window that opens to one corner of her heart.

I do not know her. I do not know what she thinks, what she does, what she wears. But every writer, however cryptic or complex be her writing, leaves a bit of herself in her pages. Like saw dust sprinkled over them. You blow them away when you read, or you see them for what they are. The characters are not her. They are all made up. The author is invisible, no one cares except for the name. But the people in the story point her character out to us. If we are willing to see.

As a reader, you enjoy the book: the story, the plot, the ending, the writing, the characters.

As a writer, you see a little further. You are able to appreciate the tools used, the skills the author has sharpened, her innate talent, her brilliance, her ability to surprise.

As a thinker, sometimes you get to go beyond, much beyond, almost to the other side of the globe. You see her, the person, the mind. As though you are looking out through a foggy glass window. Yes, you see her, vague and fuzzy, you feel her presence.

You realise that the story was not entirely fabricated, it did not come to her one fine morning. It was always there, like a sob deep inside the recesses of her sophisticated mind. It is a metaphor of what she has seen, a thread of a thought, a fear, a desire, a pain, a life. Something I can connect with.

I Google her. For she is no longer a mere name to me. She is someone I know. And if she isn’t, if what I have constructed of her isn’t true, what does it matter?

She is no longer an unknown. I see her face. I read about her life. She rises in my unworthy eyes. I read about other books she has written. Books I should soon be laying my hands on.

Now reading. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.