‘You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.’ – Arthur Polotnik
I like this quote. But personally I don’t write to communicate anything to others. I write because there’s a story inside that I want to read. When I’m writing I’m not thinking about the hearts and minds of others, or to be honest, readers at all. I’m immersed in the story as if I’m watching a movie. I’m engrossed with the characters as if they are friends who either entertain, frustrate, or confound me. I want to know what they’re up to and why.
That part about editing though; I do like that. The concept is more commonly explained as separating wheat from chaff.
You know, I don’t think about readers when I’m editing, either (sorry readers!). During the editing process all I’m doing is reading the editor’s comments and thinking ‘I should have known that’ or ‘why didn’t I see that?’ or ‘man, she’s just made a lot of work for me’ or ‘this story sucks!’. I’m in the process in other words.
So when do I, in my personal writing process, start thinking about the hearts and minds of readers? I guess when the draft goes out to the first beta readers. And then I get nervous. Worried about whether they’ll like the story or the characters. Fearful that the story won’t work the same magic in the reader as it did for me when I was dreaming it.
I guess I’m not one of those brilliant writers who have core themes and messages that they strive to communicate to the wider world in order to change the world or impart some greater societal knowledge. I’m content just telling a story.