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Monday, August 24, 2009

Listening to Readers

I’ve started up a Q & A on Goodreads, ( and anyone visiting this blog is invited to join me there. I sent an email to the people on Goodreads who’d read my book inviting them to give me any feedback on Oxygen. I’ve had some really nice responses, and made a connection with some readers I’d never otherwise meet. But most fascinating to me is the sense I am getting that readers are sometimes reluctant to write freely, telling me whatever they think.

OK, I can sort of get that, because I go all sweaty-palmed and short-of-breath when I get to meet an author I admire. But here’s the thing: without readers there would be no books—or at least no published books. The reader is the client, and I am the service provider. That’s not to say I can take every criticism to heart; indeed letting too much contrary opinion into my writing mind can kill any creative impulses I have. But my own objectivity about my work will always be limited. If I wanted to write in a vacuum, I would have stuck to diaries. If I want to grow as a writer, I need to listen to challenges. And compliments are welcome, too.

There are a thousand reasons to write, and nine hundred and fifty of them are so subliminal I’ll never haul them into the light of day. But one reason I can nail down is the unspoken, even anonymous connection that writing builds within a community of people—the community who choose one particular book over another, because something that intrigued the author enough to spend years developing it also intrigues them. So why, I ask, stop at that secondary level? Why not jet-propel right on into the next reverberation—the reader’s take on it all?

I have to throw in here, at the risk of sounding gossip-prone, that a movie celebrity once used my health club while he was filming in Seattle. I won’t tell you who he was except to mention that he actually did do his sit ups on a slanted plank from the head down position! Enough said. The guy had a security guard present to be sure none of the regular folks (like me) talked to him. The regular folks who made him rich and famous. Now, rich and famous is not my goal, but at least in that instance I decided NOT to spend the eight dollars to see his next movie.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,Carol.I am glad to visit your blog.I am rather curious about your books and as soon as I find and read them I will make a comment.My hometown is a very small one.I hope I can find.

    And about that arrogant guy...I had better keep the word in my mind to myself.

    Stay cool!