On American Idol (a very sucky season, I might add) the front-runner Crystal Bowersox said that one of the contestants was her "musical" crush (as opposed to a romantic one, I presume). So that led me to thinking about literary "flash" crushes.
The thing I often fight when reading other flash writers is the desire to compare my own writing and/or writing career to theirs and then get either angry or depressed about my own lack. However, the great thing about the literary crush is that one isn't crushed by the weight of the writer's greatness; instead, one feels buoyed by that greatness. That's one sign for me of the literary crush, that feeling of weightlessness and the lack of jealousy. Some other signs:
- The desire to re-read. It's not just a one-night stand with the literary crush. It's the book or story beside the bed, turned to again and again, night after night, each time discovering something new and wondrous in the work.
- The desire for comfort. As stated above, I have the (very) bad habit of finding discomfort in the flash of others, as if each flash acts as a messenger of all that I lack. But with the literary crush, I find myself comforted by the work. The work reminds me of the possibilities inherent within the form, and I feel (oddly) at peace with the idea that someone, somewhere did what I could not.
- The desire for inspiration. I find myself wanting to write (rather than hide away in a cave and never write again) after reading the work of someone who has become a literary crush. The literary crush inspires! Imagine that.
- The desire for further contact. Finding the literary crush as "person" rather than as "writing" means doing some searches on Facebook, Google, Goodreads, and upon finding the person, it often means a brief email, nothing that might be seen as stalking. Just a quick note: Love your work. Inspiring. Wowza. It's cool how many times a note comes back with sincere gratitude. I love that about writers, their authentic surprise at being recognized.
- The desire for "cover up." Upon ever meeting the literary crush, I exhibit one sure sign of the depth and "truth" of that felt-sense that the writer is indeed my literary crush: I blush. Kind of cute, perhaps, mostly embarrassing. It's a literary thing, I'm tempted to say, but that seems to risk ruining the moment.
- The desire to emulate. Yes, it's the sincerest form of flattery, this desire to imitate, not only in the writing itself but in other aspects of the writerly life. I begin discovering the crush's own phrasings in my status messages, the crush's way of reviewing in my own reviews, the crush's joie de vivre in my own vivre.
So, once you recognize that you've developed a literary crush, rejoice. It's a wondrous thing, this love of not only the creation but the creator. But don't confuse the crush with idol worship; it's not that. If you find yourself on your knees lighting another candle in front of the Literary Crush Shrine, you've advanced beyond the help provided by Wednesday's Flash Therapy session.
For further reading, check out FlashFiction.Net's suggested readings of flash fiction and prose poetry collections, anthologies, and craft books, by clicking here.