Sunday, November 16, 2014
Dear blog reader,
I never quote someone without checking. I talked earlier today with this fellow author to get permission to publish his email to me. I present the letter to you because I find it instructive. I decided not to name the author not because he cared but because I want it to be an everyman letter. Everyman being your readers and mine.
I keep missing you and forgetting to tell you. Again this morning.
I had difficulty getting into the first 16 pages of your Novel [A More Perfect Union], something that is not unusual with me. On the third attempt, everything fitted. I enjoyed the characters and the plot. You have introduced imagination and original scenes that kept me engrossed.
I apologize for my delayed response, but I just have that problem, remembering who, what and where at the start of each book; with The Vacationers, by Straub, it took me three beginnings also.
Congratulations, a super job.
Best regards, Author X
Thanks for the note. It took me a while to assemble some thoughts on the matter of rereading. I struggle the same way you do. Although we are separated by a common language (X is from London), we get each other. I enjoy your stories and I'm glad you enjoy mine as well. I think trying to get used to another author's style is a struggle for me (and you) because we are at an age when we know what we like or prefer, and don't much need to expand or change. I suppose flexing our minds, trying new reads, being eclectic will forestall Alzheimer’s LOL. But it certainly won't be boring.
Yesterday I went to a writers’ conference. The speaker, Brenda Novak, a New York Times bestselling author gave the first fifty who attended a copy of one of her 55 books. I have haltingly made my way through the first chapter, reading during commercials of a Hallmark movie. Even though I know she's crystal clear, I needed to get used to her voice. It is a labor of love to pick up a new friend, make room in my intellectual life for another voice, perhaps different than who I’d normally read. I don't know yet how long it will take to finish her story. I am busy and as you know a slow reader. I want to because she's acclaimed and oh yes, I like her story (The Heart of Christmas). We will do no less for each other, right? Even if we aren't on the NYT list, just yet.
Brenda has found ways to build her audience, making it personal, I suppose, opening her heart to her readers. I sense and know she writes what she enjoys, not what she thinks will impress.
“Tonight, Tonight” from West Side Story (movie version, 1961) presents a cacophony of POVs about what each person or group wants or fears the most for one night in their little piece of New York City. Opening yourself up to each voice during the movie is due to the masterstroke of great writers and composers. Create your work with the same excitement.
My first writing coach once asked me if I was writing for an audience or myself. I now know that to be a false choice. In the beginning, you only have yourself to please. If you don’t write using brain and heart—well, who else will follow you?
Brenda also said she was an eclectic reader. Let’s all pick up something today we would not normally read. Wade through it if you have to, but definitely, in the end love what you read as much as the author loved writing it.