Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Completing the Circle: Reader to Author

Dear readers, just in case you've forgotten in your rush to turn your taxes in, may we remind you that today, April 15, is also the last day to turn in your entries for the Audience With An Agent Contest? We don't want to miss a single entry, and we are much more fun than Uncle Sam. So if you've got the manuscript and just haven't sent in your synopsis and first chapter, please take a moment to DO IT NOW!

On Monday, Ariel proposed what is needed for the proper care and feeding of readers. I appreciated her insights very much. I agree with her that a writer’s ultimate responsibility is to write a great story because the reader has invested their trust and s as much as an hour’s wage to buy the book.

An author’s work is, in essence, an outstretched hand to the reader hoping for an emotional connection to the story of her heart. The only way to know if the writer has hit the mark is to hear from the reader, thus completing the circle.

I treasure every word my readers commit to an e-mail or—Oh, glorious day!—a letter. I keep a basket in my closet where they accumulate. To me, the correspondence represents most clearly that my work has accomplished its purpose.The correspondences I appreciate the most, because they help me grow as a writer, highlight a specific point of craft or outcome.

I owe many, many writers a letter to close the circle. In fact, I’ve waited so long that some of the authors of works that impacted me are dead. No matter. Here are open letters to those authors.

My dear Miss Charlotte,

It is with great gladness of heart that I put pen to paper this morning. I’ve just finished reading Jane Eyre, an unmistakable masterpiece that will surely grow in esteem. You have single-handedly lifted the novel to art. You may find my assertions grandiose, but I assure you that your rendition of the female’s low estate most accurate. As I read, I hastened to dream of a world where Jane mastered her own fate, and perhaps I mastered my own.

With great affection, your most eager admirer,

Mrs. Patti Hill

Dear Mr. Twain,

You’ve written a humdinger of a tale. Huck tickled my funny bone and scratched my conscience. He dope-slapped me silly, but I didn’t mind a lick, although my noggin hurt me something awful by the end of the book. Now, I’m hankerin’ for an adventure after reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and I’m an honest to goodness ninny. I also see the world a good deal straighter, thanks to you. Next time, leave that scallywag, Tom Sawyer, out of it.

With Warmest Regard,

Patti Hill

Dear Mrs. Buck,

Please don’t be offended. At first, I missed the value of The Good Earth.. My opinion has completely changed. I see now that you offer an unflinching and nonjudgmental view of Chinese culture I would never have encountered outside of your writing. I am so grateful. You’ve made my world much bigger and vastly more interesting. I now love The Good Earth. Thank you for sharing your gift with me.




As a reader, I’m your biggest fan. As a writer, I envy your mastery of story as well as your courage. The Passion of Mary-Margaret is amazing. Oh, oh, oh! You broke every rule beautifully. I’m sure you could rewrite the book on writing novels. Would you consider sharing what you know? What I loved most was how you jumbled the storyline, actually giving away plot points. I could go on and on about your descriptions and character development and story originality. What’s next from you?

Write faster!


Hey, Christa! Luv Watch Over Me. Ur dscrptns r grt. Frsh yet rstraind. U go, grl! P

What authors deserve a letter from you? Take this chance on Novel Matters to complete the circle between reader and writer by writing a note to an author here.


Ariel Allison Lawhon said...

Dear Mr. Lewis,

I've often wondered what I would say should the opportunity to write this letter arise. After many years contemplation, I've arrived simply at "thank you." I love Jesus today because I first loved Aslan as a child. God spoke through your stories and my life was changed as a result.

With deep appreciation,

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Carolyn See wrote in her book 'Making a Literary Life,' that we should write a charming note each day to an author or literary acquaintance. It's a great idea, even if it can't possibly be accomplished daily. I've sent two 'charming' notes to Ray Bradbury over the last few years. I had to rewrite them a half-dozen times to get them just right.

Ariel, I agree about Aslan, and I would say to Mr. Tolkien that I understood more about swearing fealty to my King after watching Merry and Pippin do it.

Jane Hoppe said...

Patti, thank you for this idea. Not only does feedback bless living authors, but also feedback in their style shows the reader has truly entered into the story, characters, and the storytelling itself. If I do this, it's akin to not just making a fabulous meal for my husband, but making his favorites.

Latayne C Scott said...

Welcome to NovelMatters, AquaJane -- also known as Jane Hoppe whom Patti and I met at dinner tonight and who is attending the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, as we are!