14 May 2010

The Readerly Text

This was a concept I was introduced to in university: a book is a construction between writer and reader, and is different to every person who experiences it.

Reader reaction to my work often surprises me, and today I had feedback on "Stained Glass Monsters" which completely floored me since it was not a description which I would ever have applied to the story.

When receiving 'surprising' feedback on a story, I find it always important to take a few steps back and weigh up what factors made the reader come up with that response. Then I generally debate adjusting the story to prevent anyone else having that response.

In this particular case, the feedback still feels very off the mark, and though there are a few word dinks I'll probably make, I think in this case it's a matter of someone with very different tastes - or using stronger words to get a point across.

I'm well aware that in writing something which appeals to my specific tastes, I am never going to approach 'high concept'. At what point do you sacrifice writing the story you want, to its highest possible quality, and start trying to write what's marketable? Urban or dark or whatever the current fashion is?

I think, when I was younger, I would be tempted to follow the trends, but I am fortunate to have come to understand that my reason for wanting to be published at all (outside of the very human desire to preen and join a semi-exclusive club) is to share my particular worlds and stories, to have other people love these tales which I enjoy.

It's possible this may make me unpublishable, of course. But I push on with making the stories the best that they can be, and attempt to place them with a publisher who shares my tastes. At least until my October deadline.

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