For the most part, despite writers’ groups and online discussions, writing is a solitary occupation. You spend years writing a book, months rewriting it, and perhaps a year or two editing it. (Unless you are participating in National Novel Writing Month as hundreds of thousands are doing this November, then you spend . . . gasp! . . . a whole month writing your book!)
During the time you are writing, you have only your vision to sustain you. You wonder if anyone will ever buy the book. You wonder if anyone will like it. You don’t need acclaim, because writing is an end in itself. Still, readers connect the circle between you and the culmination of your vision, and in an odd sort of way, they finish the book. They take your vision and make it their own.
Many writers don’t consider readers during the writing process. They write solely for themselves and are proud of that fact, but what they don’t realize is how often their story fails to reach beyond the confines of the cover to allow the reader to participate in the story.
I write for myself in that I can only write what I can write. Even though I know the kinds of books that sell in great numbers, I’ve never been able to make that leap. My mind simply rebels — it wants to write what it wants and when it wants. Currently, my mind doesn’t seem to want to write any story; it simply wants to steep in the story I am presently living: new house owner. One day, though, a new story will pop up that I want to write. (I’m already trying to figure out who in my new town will be the victim of my next “Nightmare” story, the sequel to Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare.)
Although I can only write what my mind will allow, I still take potential readers into consideration. I wonder what readers will think. Will they understand my references? Will they find the humor? Is my writing clear enough? I like thinking that perhaps someday a reader will share this as yet unwritten product of my mind.
Malcolm R. Campbell, author of Conjure Woman’s Cat, wrote: “Whether it’s a book, poem, post, review, article or news story, I always hope somebody will say something. One never knows. It’s a slow conversation, so much time having gone by between the moment when something was written and the moment when somebody tells you they found it.”
Such a wonderful description of writing/reading — a slow conversation. I know I’ve read many books where I felt the author and I were having a conversation, silent though it may be. I read and I think about what I read.
It’s quite a heady realization that now I am a writer with readers of my own. I hope they enjoy our long, slow conversation.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.