Writers, as far as I can tell, are people with too many stories stuffed in their heads. In order to stay sane, we have to get the stories out. It’s a good system; it ensures that only fictional people get murdered and that more every day girls get to marry princes. Writers are also, by and large, readers. So you’d think that we’d have an understanding of our own readers. But most of us are somewhat mystified as to why we have readers. The idea that someone would actually want to read any of my books is still surprising. I just make up stories and then… people actually read them. That’s crazy!
Don’t get me wrong; I think my stories are awesome. I think everyone should read them. But “everyone” is a rather abstract concept, with safety built into it’s very generality. On the other hand, a singular reader is frighteningly specific and frighteningly judgmental. Think of your day, and your telling this really funny story to your co-worker about your college roommate who once got so drunk that she projectile vomited into someone’s hair. Now picture your grandmother standing there listening. It kind of puts a crimp on you miming how your roommate popped out of her tube top, doesn’t it? That’s the power that a singular reader has to stymie a writer. The harsh judgment of a reader can make the creative wellspring dry up in a flash. Which is why every time a reader seeks me out to tell me that they enjoyed my book, I sincerely appreciate it. Each compliment is a bolster against the times when someone tells you they found a typo in your book or they don’t understand why you didn’t just make the main character a man. Thoughtful, lovely readers make all the difference to a writer. I may not always know they’ve given their time and money to reading one of my stories, but I will always try to give my readers a story worthy of their expenditure.