No, I don’t mean invisible ink, although, personally, I find invisible ink a fascinating topic. I remember my brother had some kind of kit where you wrote with a magic pen and it was invisible until you brushed it with some secret something. As you can see, I was the younger one, so this memory is imprecise.
What I meant was writing that does not call attention to itself. The kind of writing you don’t notice when you are reading. I heard a writer being interviewed on New Hampshire public television, which, by the way, was so beautifully New Hampshire. The writer and the host were sitting on a small dais, in front of a window where you could see New Hampshire trees and New Hampshire hills. Everyone in the audience was in fleece or otherwise sensibly clothed. This was not an LA book talk.
Invisible writing, he said. That is what he aspires to. He wants the reader to get lost in his stories — he writes mysteries (twenty-five of them, but who’s counting) — and not pay attention to his verbs or his adjectives. I was interested in his certainty. Largely, because I am not that certain about anything, but also because I am not so sure about this. What about David Foster Wallace and Shelley and Emily Dickinson? But then I was a poet in my first writing life. Maybe it is a genre issue. But even when I read mysteries, I like hearing the mystery writer’s voice, wise and balanced. Or funny.
So, I think I resent this idea. Who wants to be invisible? What writer really can be?