Recently I made a comment on a published author’s website. The next day I received an emailed response from the author’s personal assistant. It was a nice gesture, but frankly a little underwhelming. Readers are not passive viewers of your craft; readers partake of your work and your work becomes a shared experience. The pages in a writer’s novel, or the words on his/her blog reflect the writer’s inner world far more than he or she might care to admit -in the process of reading a piece the reader learns more about the writer and the writer usually knows nothing about the reader – so I am always surprised when authors choose to distance themselves from their readers, or employ the use of a professional persona when dealing with the “audience” in real time.
I write to reveal and I live the same way. Every word I write is a reflection of my own inner world. Even when a character says something contrary to what I believe, more often than not it reflects real interactions or observations during my life. I have different modes and moods when writing, but my core identity never changes. I am the same person on the page as I am in real time and I am the same as my readers. I never write for an audience and avoid writing for a market, rather, I think of it as writing for communities, mine and others. But most importantly I tend to think of individuals rather than groups – this allows me to use a more intimate voice when writing.
My point is, readers are not groupies to keep at arm’s length. We belong to humanity, to communities and families, but we are always individuals first. Don’t treat readers as strangers or clients, it will reflect in your work.