Here's the thing about mirrors: they're not always the most accurate depiction of what is real. What we see within that silvered glass is often skewed by lighting, reflection, eyesight, dust and... most importantly, the mental and emotional and spiritual state of the person doing the looking.
When I'm feeling particularly low about myself I can leave the house and have no memory of whether or not I actually looked in the mirror. I mean, I must have, right? I brushed my teeth, I styled my hair... so I must have used a mirror. But... I have no memory of seeing myself in it. I may as well have been the invisible woman for as much of a mark as my reflection made on my subconscious.
Books are sometimes like that, too; so unsure of what they're trying to say... or so cliche and "done" that reading the story is like revisiting a hundred other stories that were just as typical, just as ordinary, just as unremarkable as a low-self-esteem glance at the mirror.
But sometimes there is confidence found when we are captured, apart from ourselves for a moment, but the beauty of a rare, untainted Story; and, by virtue of its truth-within-the-fiction heart, it is just as hard to accept. Being confident should be a positive thing, right? Well... not always. Why? Because I know what ugliness could be revealed in my reflection if I linger too long at the mirror.
Those books are rare -- and as much as I read, reviewing books for a living as I do (under a different name) -- I know how rare they are. But when I find them, it's like finding a piece of myself; a beauty mark that, while some may perceive it as a blemish, God sees it as uniquely me and, even if it looks ugly now he can take that blemish in my soul and fashion it around my character until it becomes a thing of beauty. And I find that truth, and truths about myself, so often in the pages of books. I know there is much more than beautiful prose and entertainment within those pages -- there's an application for this story within my life. It is a painful reminder of my failings, my sin, my fear, my pride -- the lack of light and the abundance of dust that's accumulated in my heart. But if I look deeply enough, there is also a hope that the revelation of the blemish will enable a metamorphosis of sorts; that, over time and repetitive visits to similar mirrors, that I will be transformed by Truth.
That's the kind of book I want to read, even when I know it will hurt. That's the kind of book I need to read, hoping there will be change. Those are the stories I hope to write -- to lose my pride and hope a glimpse into my mirror will enrich someone else's story.
Because fiction mirrors truth. And sometimes, it hurts.
But it is beautiful -- if we allow it to become so within.