Their Reader’s Eye

I took the photo that follows yesterday. I am sitting in the same place now as I write this blog post. Similarly when I write for my books, I am usually tapping away at my Microsoft Surface on my desk:

[Photo by me, Potton, England, February 8, 2021. Pay no attention to that Kit Kat to the right.]

When I am not there, I may use my iPad/iPhone’s Notes app – sort of as an “inspiration” notebook. That may be when I am watching TV, out for a walk, or when I awaken in the middle of the night… or even when I am surfing social media and an idea strikes me. (I do get ideas from social media.) I tap out brainstorms and desired corrections in the app that pop to my mind so I remember later to incorporate it into the novel.

Writing a book is, to me, mostly just barely controlled chaos. At the start of a new one, I set out a basic outline of a few pages of what I think may happen, including the ending. Subsequently, there is no real “pattern” to getting the bulk of it finished.

I am at the stage now with my current manuscript where I have every chapter decided upon and framed, with varying amounts written in each one. Some chapters are nearly completed, while others remain just “bullet points” that still need lots of work. Gradually I fill them all in, and to do that I bounce around.

[Enlarged and reversed, from Bernardo Bellotto, 1777: “Miodowa Street in Warsaw.” From my Instagram Stories, February 9, 2021. Public Domain.]

I may write of a day in “1808” and of a letter from Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States. Later that same day I may have decided to write more about a countess in a German principality in 1811 attempting to play matchmaker. Another morning I might be writing of a British general encountering an American niece in the summer 1814 outside of Paris when they had not seen each other in two years. After that perhaps I switch to writing about an 1812 walk in wintry woods that has nearly fatal consequences.

On and on all that goes for a year or more.

Increasingly I comb the text for stupid mistakes. I also start touching up what are “rough” patches to improve its read. Eventually I take to reading the manuscript aloud as well – which is one reason I do need privacy to write: I have learned “hearing” it helps further identify where it may be “not quite right,” particularly in terms of what is supposed to be spoken dialogue.

[From Instagram.]

It is too easy for a writer to be “seduced” by the “reassurance” they may get from social media. Some I follow or encounter on the likes of Twitter seem to become so caught up in “the act” of writing and evidently searching for affirmation from followers. We get tweet after tweet of how many words they did today, etc., and see replies like “That’s fantastic! Stay strong…”

[From Instagram.]

They seem to end up forgetting that their book is really NOT about THEM.

Yes, I share excerpts on here of what I do and background about it – mostly as a way to show “progress” and try to gauge interest in a project that would otherwise be invisible for possibly years. (It is rather hard to maintain an author web site with only one update every other year or so upon a new book publication. I feel I would be unlikely by then to have any followers who would even notice! LOL!) However, I always remember that while this would not have happened without me, I am actually NOT central to the end result. What I did to bring that book into existence – how many words I wrote daily, for instance – is actually beside the point.

[From Instagram.]

What matters far more is that book stands on its own to someone who reads it as its finished product. An author does not get an “A” for effort; no one really cares about your effort nor should they really. The only “grade” that truly matters is that the end result ensnares them and keeps their reader’s eye:

[A sneak peek from Capture The Cause. Click to expand.]

Well, as the author we certainly HOPE it ensnares a reader and HOPE it keeps their reader’s eye, that is. 😉

Incidentally, as for the above and what happens next? Stay tuned. I wrote a lot of that yesterday, and, umm, I am still writing it.

Hope you are having a good week, wherever you are. 🙂


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