Adam Patterson | November 20th, 2013

When many of us read a sentence that really resonates we think: “A-ha, that’s IT. Exactly!”

Why is IT in caps? Because that’s what the skilled writer — and songwriter and painter and logo designer, for that matter — is after. And what is IT? Well, that’s the essence of the matter: a thought or feeling or undeniable truth that we know exists but lies just beyond our ability to articulate.

Capturing IT is what makes quality expression so rare, and hard to quantify. But that’s the writer’s job: to grab these mysterious feelings – these shadows and phantoms swirling around in our heads — and make them come alive on the page for the rest of us.

Here’s a literary giant and a soul music legend on the same topic, more than a hundred years apart.

“[The sea] is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.”

- Herman Melville, 1851

“Life is just a shadow that I just can’t seem to find sometimes.”

- Bill Withers, 1974

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