Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Evanovich's How I Write

Amazon sent me Janet Evanovich's How I Write today, and I scarfed it down in an hour. Do I recommend it? Well, I loved it. It cracked me up, and she said a few good things.

On the other hand, she's being entirely honest when she says that she took the content from the FAQs on her website. If you've read the FAQs, you've pretty much read the book.

The book organizes the material more methodically, and Ina Yalof has put in a few bulleted lists of main points a la For Dummies.

However, Janet Evanovich is very encouraging. If you need a good friend to sit beside you while you write, then plop this book beside you, and when you hit a tricky bit, open it up. You'll find an encouraging friend to cheer you on.

The best advice she gave in the whole books was to "write for the reader." I've heard a lot of debate on whether one should write for oneself, or one should write for the reader. People tend to think that their perspective is the right one.

Me, too. I'm firmly on the "write for the reader" side. Of course, as a pianist, I practiced to perform. I never much liked the process of practicing much. Just a chore to do until the next time I could perform. That's where writing for oneself is a wonderful thing: it'll keep you motivated when the going gets tough, when it feels like no one is ever going to read it--or if they do, they'll think it's crap.

But when I was finishing my last novella (Boy, I struggle to get the last quarter of a novella done. It's a chore, let me tell you. A letter by letter chore.), a reader wrote me. Basically, she just wrote how wonderful it was to read about a man who understood and respected 'his' woman, and that it helped keep the hope alive that one day, she would find that, too. It made her feel a little less lonely, if only for a couple hours.

I have to tell you, the last quarter of my novella flew after that. I was on a mission to reassure her of all the above. I suddenly felt like what I did was important: giving one woman happiness and hope, and at least a vicarious feeling of love, albeit fictional.

True, I deluded myself into thinking my story was much more important than it actually is. But at least the last quarter flew, and I felt like I was doing something important.

So what do you do? Write for yourself, or for the reader? And what keeps you going when the going gets hard?

1 bonus scribbles:

Bernita 9/20/2006 12:24:00 PM  

For the reader.
Otherwise, I would post it on the blog or stick it under the bed and not attempt to secure publication
Shall we say, grim determination?
But yes, a little encouragement that we have managed to touch a reader is some way is a wonderful encouragement.