The relationship between reader and writer is complex and forever entwined.
Sure, a writer can write without a reader, but if her words remain unread and unexplored, do the words mean anything? I suppose it depends on what we write — journals, novels — but I would imagine those words mean less if they linger in literary oblivion.
Different from speech, writing is a personal form of communication. While the writer should not preach or try to persuade ad nauseam, we are human; much of who we are comes through in a novel. And for $2.99 or some such, the reader steps inside the inner sanctum to explore at will.
Before I started writing seriously, I viewed the writer as someone who worked for my pleasure. Now I know is for the pleasure of both, reader and writer. One cannot offer pleasure without feeling the same. No matter how hard she tries. It would come across fake; the trust would be broken.
That is the opposite of what the writer is aiming for when constructing the novel.
What a reader takes from a novel may not be in accord with the writer’s intention. And that’s perfectly all right. A reader’s view is directed by his experiences, his interpretation of the words may be different to that of the writer or another reader who has had a different life experience. It’s what makes the whole process beautiful.
I once heard mystery writer Harlan Coben say he has no books until he has readers. I didn’t know what to make of it until my book was sent into the worlds of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and I started hearing back from readers.
Though I controlled the text as it took shape, I was no longer in control of how the reader might interpret it. And the more I heard back the more I delighted in the fact that readers cared enough to interpret away, to ask questions about my characters.
That is so much more than a writer can hope for. It really is what keeps me going back to writing, even on the occasional, devoid-of-inspiration day.
Whatever your creative passion, how does hearing back from your audience feel?
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