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Sharing the Selfish Self

by R D Larson

People read for different reasons than they did in past years. They would sit around in the evening and read. Or they’d read before bed, not watching the last late night gasp of world news. Or they’d read during lazy Sunday afternoons. They read because it was the most entertaining thing to do. Today’s readers now go to the gym, rent DVDs or go online. More work and more fun makes readers feel pressed for time.

Writers today write for different reasons also. It’s less of “I’ve written a great story” but more like “I write because I want you to know these people and what they feel and you can’t do it in a movie or a play. It’s too personal. It’s between the writer and the reader. When anyone reads anything, a contract is established between him and the writer. And that contract exists only between the reader and writer, not with anyone else.

As the population enlarges and people are more assaulted by the instant and often demeaning venue of a picture is worth a thousand words of advertising and quick fulfillment, the reader will want more intimacy with his entertainment. The pleasure of reading will rise again as an expression of thought and companionship.

In no other media is there such a team, a one-on-one pair, as the reader and the writer. Even with the popularity of Book Clubs and reading groups, it still comes down to the magic that the writer creates for the reader. And the single reader accepts. A melding of minds and the essence of private communication without the commercials and without the projection from many minds into the reader/viewer, the true self can emerge and contribute to the story in its own unique way.

Sometimes we writers talk about craft and development. But there’s so much more. And our beloved readers know about it. They know the secret magic, the secret potions that feed our imagination, the tangles that assault our minds when our characters come alive on the page for first the writer and then the reader.

How many times have you read words that said exactly how you felt? Or how you would have faced the situation? Who knows what a person will do when that enigmatic time of choice arrives? That moment that the writer speaks and the reader hears is the unexplained, the mysterious core of our contract.

What am I working on? That is a question that other writers ask and it is the same question that readers ask. It’s a fair question. The reader wants to know if I can do that magic again, make a character real, trust the reader with my life. For writing is my life.

Whatever Work in Progress is current, that is my life, my reason and my unreason, my cultural translation of my time in life in this time of the ages and the way people are so vulnerable to life. My job is to translate that pleasure to the reader. The reader’s job is to see with his own vision my story, my sharing of my vulnerable, and, yes, open self.

What else is left but our care for one another? A writer and a reader care about each other when they share the selfish words of the page. Then it’s no longer selfish, it’s sharing.

Copyright © 2006 by R D Larson

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