Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Who Do You Write For?

Do you have a particular, typical, or ideal reader in mind as you write?

From Frank

I think so. I mean, this is different than the mythical first reader, right?

If so, then I do. I think of several die-hard River City/Frank Zafiro readers, and I write in a way that I think will interest them, will excite them, will satisfy them, will validate their faith in me as a writer.

I pay attention to what they like, what they want, and how they respond.

I make an effort to engage with them outside of the work itself, with social media and a newsletter (plus conferences - remember those?).

If I were to distill down who that reader is, I'd say it is the person whose eyebrows go up in delight when there's a new release. Someone who cares about the characters, not only just in one book but their trajectory of the course of a series. I don't want to let that reader down, so I think about them while I write.

Now, if we're talking first reader, then we're talking Kristi (my wife). 

I think that a spouse or partner serves as first reader for many writers - in fact, show of hands, please?

Yeah, thought so.

Thing is, I don't actually write with her in mind exactly. I worry what she may think about a piece of work when I'm done but don't sweat it during. I think this may be a by-product of bouncing thoughts and ideas off of her during the creative process at times. I don't always do that, but fairly often - she's pretty smart. Plus even when I don't like whatever she comes back with, it is still frequently a catalyst for arriving at an idea I do like. So it's worth it.

I think that frequently involving her in the creative process mitigates that "will she like it?" angst. At least until I hit the end. Then... well, let's just say that no matter how hard I try, every time I ask her to read something, it's, "Hey, will you give this a read. You'll probably hate it."

She no longer shows me any mercy where this ridiculous habit is concerned. She used to. Years ago, she'd say, "Don't be that way - I'm sure it's great. You're a great writer." Nowadays the exchange is:

Me: Hey, will you give this a read?

Her: Sure.

Me: You'll probably hate it.

Her: You're probably right. I'm sure I will.

Me: [stunned silence]

Her. I mean,  it's probably dreadful.

Me: [lip begins to quiver]

Her: You should probably stop writing, to be honest. I mean, if you don't have the hang of it after thirty books, maybe you're just not good at it.

Me: [tears of anguish flow]

Her: When do you need it back?

Now, time for a pair of confessions.

Confession #1: She's not quite that brutal in real life but she also doesn't indulge my tender author sensibilities anymore either. Most of the time, in reality, she just says, "You're a great writer" or something along those lines and she means it. But occasionally she does drop the flat-toned, "Yep, probably gonna suck" line on me just to remind me that, spoiler alert - artistic insecurity isn't sexy.

Confession #2: While everything else I wrote above (and below, for that matter) is true, here's the deeper truth on the topic of the day: the ideal reader one, you know?

The truest answer to this question is no. The truest answer is that I write for myself.

Sorry to be so self-centered. My wife points out that I'm a Leo, whatever that means.

And maybe "myself" isn't quite right, either. I think I am actually writing more for "them." And by them, I mean the characters and their story.

How pretentious is that, huh?

I'll close by saying this, though - to be fair, I definitely edit with those ideal and/or first readers in mind... but I suppose that's a different post, isn't it?


Blatant Self Promotion (with some other authors being promoted, too!)

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'm excited to be part of a cool anthology coming out in May, along with some names you may recognize.

The Eviction of Hope is the creation of my sometimes collaborator, Colin Conway. I'll let him describe what it's about:

It’s eviction day for The Hope Apartments. The residents have known about it for over a year. It’s too bad they ignored all the warning signs.

More than a century ago, developer Elijah Hope constructed a state-of-the-art hotel. As the generations passed and tastes changed, The Hope spent two decades as an underutilized office building before conversion into a low-income housing project.

Rundown by years of human occupation, The Hope has become a hollow shell of its once great self. It is home to drug addicts, petty criminals, and those hiding from others. The city has long turned a blind eye to The Hope as surrounding neighborhoods gentrified and pushed their disaffected in its direction.

But now The Hope is preparing a return to its original glory. The current owners plan to convert it into a boutique hotel. The only thing standing in their way is the eviction of over one hundred units.

Each resident knew this fateful day was coming, yet most chose to believe it would never arrive. They ignored the posted signs, the hand-delivered warnings, and even the actual notices.

Many stayed until the bitter end.

These are their stories.

My contribution to this anthology is “The Rumor in 411,” a story of loyalty and the power of rumors. 

The Eviction of Hope is already available for pre-order at a reduced price of .99 cents (regular price will be somewhere in the $5.99 range, I imagine). 

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