I was remiss with a post last week because I was enjoying good friends and great conversation on Stingray Point in Virgina. I'm so used to Internet connections all over the place that I didn't prewrite my post to automatically publish on Sunday. I just assumed (always dangerous) that I could post from the cottage.
While I was away, I did absolutely no writing, not a single word scribbled down, despite the ever present Casey journal and a stack of paper in the living room. What I did was listen to my friends talk about books. There was literally a two hour discussion of a Linda Howard book that her avid fans didn't enjoy. They analyzed what they liked and didn't, why they forgave her that one book and made allowances for trigger points that the author knew nothing about. Those readers have a strong connection to that author's work. They enjoy not only her characters and storylines but her writing style as well.
Robin Sorrentino is a brilliant storyteller. Sitting in a circle of Adirondack chairs and listening to her describe the next project, George's Book, was so much fun. She pointed out the island across the way which served as inspirtation, used her entire body to describe his journey and made us laugh with all of her research questions. We might not all be agile enough to hide out in the trunk of a car but we'd all fit. Just not all at the same time.
It was fascinating to listen to everyone share their love for reading; for good books and excellent story-telling. At any given time over the weekend you could enter any room of the cottage and see someone reading. There were even a few occasions when one person would be reading aloud to others.
As a writer, stuck alone in the attic with only your characters for company, it's easy to lose track of your audience. We get so focused on the words on the page, on making a particular scene shine or another scene come to vivid heart-stopping life, that we lose sight of who we're bleeding on the page for.
It's one thing to write for yourself; and honestly I'm my first reader, I need to feel/enjoy/engage with my project. In order to be a successful author, the connections have to radiate across the sky to bathe a multitude of readers in the warm glow.
That awareness came home with me. I was able to keep an open mind when Kate, my brilliant critique partner, told me how difficult it was to connect with Nea. Demons by their very nature are not sympathetic creatures. Understanding what made her so nasty might make it easier for the Reader to go on this journey with her. So the prologue is written.
Casey is so darn easy to connect with that his story naturally flows. As his journey is ongoing, the challenge will be knowing when to stop writing and just continue to live with him.