Horace famously wrote “If you would have me weep, you must first of all feel grief yourself.”
It’s no secret. If we writers ever hope to make it we must emotionally move our readers.
Our readers come first. That is who we write for. We may write for ourselves – but we only do so to an extent. We write because we want to inspire or shock or excite others.
No writer writes aspiring to stash his writing into the drawer of his desk.
So once we’re over that hurdle and we’ve acknowledged that we actually want to have readers the next hurdle is to figure out how to attract them.
Sol Stein said “…the fiction writer’s primary job…is creating an emotional experience for the reader. The novelist is like the conductor of an orchestra, his back to the audience, his face invisible, summoning the experience of music for the people he cannot see.”
If we want to attract readers, we must understand that we are writing for them. They are our client. Just as every good business woman knows to treat her client with respect, so too, we writers better be attentive to the comments of those who read our first, second and third drafts. Our emotional connectedness with our manuscript is our doom. Our readers deserve respect and we respect them by moving them emotionally.
This of course is where good old Horace comes in. If you want to make your readers feel – and I know you do – you must be able to feel the emotional power in your own writing. See this clip of Ray Bradbury speak about writing. He puts it all together – writing for yourself, being moved by your own writing and moving others.
One more thing. Passover is really soon. I haven’t even begun with my cleaning so I won’t be writing for the next couple of weeks until after the holiday – the beginning of April. So to anybody celebrating – happy cleaning and my wishes to you for a happy and kosher Pessach. To the rest of you the world – enjoy your spring break!