An Ideal Reader

I like to make things for people, which you might realize if you’ve been following this blog for a while. There’s the quilt I’m working on for my son (and the quilt I gave to my niece a couple of years ago). Last month, I took time away from quilting to do some knitting and make the sweaters I showcased on the blog last week. I’ve made many afghans for friends over the years, and when I was in grad school, I was known to bake birthday cakes occasionally for people in our lab. There’s something very pleasing about giving somebody something that was made just for them, created with them in mind.

That being the case, it should make sense that I create stories and books with someone specific in mind, right?

Certainly other authors do: Stephen King, in On Writing, says he always writes with his wife in mind, and when she smiles as he’s reading, he knows he got it right. John Scalzi has said (for example, here) he writes science fiction with his in-laws in mind because he knows if they enjoy it, others who don’t primarily read SF will as well.

But the middle-grade horror that I wrote for NaNo this year? My son didn’t even like the premise of it and thought it wouldn’t be worth reading.

My husband, when he reads something I’ve sold that’s been posted on-line, invariably seems to sound surprised when he says it’s good. That’s when he comments.

My mom has given me feedback on stories ranging from “I really liked it” to “It certainly was different.”

Clearly, my family members are not my ideal readers, which left me convinced for a long time that I didn’t have anyone particular I wrote for. I just wrote the stories that appealed to me and hoped they would find readers out in the wild.

I still write things because they appeal to me, but I realized around the middle of December that I do have an ideal reader. My friend Bonnie, who has critiqued many a story for me, is the first one I think of when I want to share a snippet of something I’ve just written. When I wanted to know whether The Christmas Tree Farm Murders was ready to go, I asked her whether she would buy it in a store if she didn’t know me. She’s the one I bounce ideas of off, talk through plot problems with, and squee at when I have good news. She’s ideal because she loves my writing but won’t hesitate to tell me when something doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work.

I write for me, but she’s my barometer, and for that, I thank her.

Today’s post was inspired by the topic “My ideal reader”– January’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The next post in the tour will be on the 4th, by D. M. Bonanno. Be sure to check it out.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on crossing genre lines, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. You can find links to all of the posts on the tour by checking out the group site. Read and enjoy!