Saturday, January 19, 2013

Respect for the Reader

If anything keeps me working to do my best, it's the knowledge that a woman out there paid five or six dollars to buy my book.  Today, that could be a considerable percentage of her disposable income.  She's counting on me to provide her with several hours of fantasy, of a world where the heroine gets a wonderful man who loves her for who she is and helps her to live her dreams.

This woman is smart, so I try hard to be accurate in my details because she'll know if I'm wrong.  If  I shortchange the romance, skip feelings that are too hard to describe, leave out a detail I can't verify, or run toward the ending without a satisfying unwinding of plot elements because I'm physically and emotionally exhausted, she'll know.  She might even call me on it.

I believe if you try faithfully to give your reader what she wants in the most honest way possible, you develop a relationship that transcends the georgraphical distance between you, the fact that you may never see each other, and that most of your contact is enjoyed only between the covers of a book - or, now, in a little corner of cyberspace.

Sometimes, you do get lucky enough to meet at autograph parties or at conferences.  A woman once came to an autograph party here in Astoria specifically to tell me that after her husband died, she moved here because I'd written about it.  She liked the notion of living on a beautiful hillside that rolls down to the river, and that it sounded friendly and she needed that in her life.  (No pressure there!)

Despite all the agonies that accompany writing, that kind of a moment makes it all worth while.  As we discussed in Roz's post, most of us will never be wealthy.  But we can take our coin in the friendships we make along the way with the women who read our books and share our love of romance.

5 comments:

  1. What you said about the woman moving there really struck a chord with me. I live in Phoenix, but before I moved her I read a book set here (no, it's not why I moved). When I got here, I went looking for some of the places. Books really do build worlds in the reader's heart.

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  2. Hi, Pam. Yes, that's true. I'd love to visit Jane Austen's England. (I'm not sure what you do about it, though, when you're 200 years too late!)

    Happy Saturday! Muriel

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  3. Wow, Muriel. This is so true. The relationship that is established between the book covers between reader and writer is sacred. This really brought it home today. Makes me want to work harder, write better. Thank you.

    And I can relate to wanting to live or visit where books have taken place. Especially when there's a strong sense of community. Your Men of Maple Hill series did that for me as well as Debra Clopton's Mule Hollow or Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove. I hope to be able to live up to that.

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  4. Muriel, connecting with readers is a writer's main goal I think. I remember an RWA workshop a long time ago which was something about the power in our "little" books. Two series writers read really touching reader letters and everyone in the audience was in tears. I don't save many reader letters, but I keep one about a book I wrote called: A Cowboy At Heart which dealt with homeless kids. A young woman who read it when she was homeless wrote me to say my book gave her hope that homelessness wasn't a permanent condition. And she had a job and was doing well when she wrote to tell me that. So---as writers we never know how powerful our stories may be.

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  5. Syndi - Good morning! Thank you for remembering Maple Hill. I lived with the place a long time during that series and I can still 'go' there in my mind if I want to. I, too, love Cedar Cove, but am not familiar with Mule Hollow. Will have to check it out. Thank you for the heads-up.

    Hi, Roz. I really believe we're all put here to get each other through. How wonderful that you gave a young woman hope enough to find a way out of homelessness and into a fulfilling life. As difficult as writing sometimes is, we're so lucky to have a forum for sending out good vibrations!

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