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Wednesday Flash Therapy: 6 Tell-Tale Signs of a Literary Crush

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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
  6. 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.


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One comment

From gay degani

Yep. This is sooooo true, Ran­dall. Are we allowed to have dozens of crushes? Or just one?

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