After my first book was published and I knew that others, besides ever-patient friends, now read it (a creation over which I had had nightmares, sweated life blood, and torn nails), I realized that the creative process does not end with the word in print. Books are like children. Once they leave the nest, they will be viewed and judged by those without a parent’s forbearance and love.
So I would like to say that my favorite reader falls into the praise category, one who is kind to my child, likes the books I like, owns the same set of principles I do, and wants the world to be the way I would make it, were I able.
But I’ll try not to. Really, really try…
A reader’s imagination is needed to complete all fiction, and so I am intrigued when any reader chooses not to do so for a particular story. From comments I’ve read about all kinds of fiction, I suspect a few are frightened to go where the tale might lead their imagination. Others are offended by characters they wouldn’t want living next door to them. But some take the ride and find it inadequate for reasons of craft or style. Like it or not, that last kind of reader brings insight to the author, teaching a lesson about the craft even if the lesson is that we will always fail to reach every single reader. Being human, I prefer those who find delight in my work, but, because it can be educational, I have to include these readers who find the books lacking for valid reasons amongst my favorite readers.
Have I sounded somewhat objective and vaguely mature?
Good, because I’m not.
I still worry about my little books going into a world where they must face cruelty as well as praise. For that reason, I keep a framed copy of the poem The Author To Her Book by Anne Bradstreet, a writer four hundred years ago who understood the fear and expressed it so well. I suspect even the poet(s) known as Homer suffered much the same way. At least I’m still historical about this…