I’m 3/4 through Stephen King’s Memoir “on writing” and have loved every minute of it. He comes across not only as an incredibly talented writer but as someone I’d hang out with because he seems like a pretty nice guy. I love how much he refers to being guided and blessed by his wife when he writes his books.
For Stephen King – writer extraordinaire, his wife is his Ideal Reader (IR).
He writes with her in mind.
Stephen encourages readers/budding writers to think of their Ideal Readers, so here’s mine:
My ideal reader is kind, thoughtful, empathic. I imagine the person is a girl – not a young girl (as in not in her 20’s) but a girl nonetheless – in that she’s girly, delicate, sweet but strong. Maybe she’s 67? She’s someone who’s been through a lot of pain and has taken it gracefully and with a quiet strength that is actually really, really beautiful.
When I gave it a lot of thought, my IR is actually Shanti – who has an incredible blog of her own and is a writer, too. Surprising – but a lot of the re-write (probably the 9th or 10th bloody draft, I’ve gone over so many times) of my Memoir has been with Shanti in the back of my mind, wondering if she’d like what I’ve written or shake her head and think “girl, nooooo”.
My Ideal Readers also include the lost. The hurting. The broken. The shunned, forgotten, trodden on, bullied and the outcasts. I want them to pick up my Memoir at a bookstore, curious about the title. I imagine they’ll do what I do and open the book at random – maybe half way – just to get a ‘feel’ for the writer’s style and see if they’d like to explore it further.
In my imagination, the reader reads a sentence – or a paragraph – in my Memoir that really resounds with them. This person – dishevelled, overweight, alone – thinks to herself; “Woah…this person really gets me” and they read on. They read an entire chapter and don’t realise time has passed. They like what they’ve read. They’re invested now; they want to know how it ends. Like me – they then consider the cost – literally – of buying the whole book…because it’s somehow become something they can’t let go of.
They turn the book over to see the price and decide that yes, $25.00 is reasonable and they want to buy the whole book.
I imagine ‘her’, you know (my fictional character)…lining up to pay for the book, glancing around and wishing she was as beautiful as the other girls in line, practising saying “Just this, please” for when it’s her turn at the counter. She’s biting her lip and fiddling with the end of her pony-tail; wishing she’d had the strength earlier to wash her hair. This girl hates the part where she has to interact with someone behind the counter to buy the book – but also secretly cherishes the short interactions because they’re vital connections in her life.
Leaving the store, she doesn’t tuck the book into her bag. Instead, she picks a vacant wooden bench near the store – under a tree. She sits, settles her handbag beside her, takes out my book…and begins to read. I imagine her smiling at my humour, nodding at my thoughts and feeling it when I share my brokenness with her, as if I’m talking directly to her.
“There’s hope for you” she reads and that really resounds with her. Maybe there is.
Her phone goes off with an alarm for her upcoming counselling session so she sighs and puts the book in her handbag – for later.
As she stands to go, she feels lighter now. Better. Less alone.
…and she can’t wait to get back to my book.
That’s my hope right there. That’s what I dream of for my finished manuscript.