My Ideal Reader (IR)

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 meand 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.

7 responses to “My Ideal Reader (IR)”

  1. I’m beyond honoured to be your IR. On my WordPress reader feed your blog posts are the ones I always get the most excited about. You just have a knack for conveying emotion and with such refreshing fearless honesty. You make me a better writer too. So thank you Janet.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the idea of “ideal reader”! Will have to ponder that concept!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to know what answer you come up with, Jeff xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Still thinking about it….it is an excellent question. A target group narrowed down to one.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is an interesting question for me as well. I believe that my content currently reaches a broad range of folks and I do not have an ideal reader in mind. I will ponder this and review my current posts to see if there are any patterns. I am also going to think on the question of does catering to an “ideal reader” somehow limit my thinking? I am not sure on any of the above but I like the idea of thinking through this. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely food for thought – trying to imagine the person who will WANT to buy your book and will ENJOY it and want to keep turning the pages. I can see how you would feel somewhat “limited” and not as able to “cast your net wide”, but it’s hopefully going to inspire you to write for a certain demographic. I’d love to know what you come up with, please keep me posted xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For sure there is going to be some people that like what I write. Others will not, and then others that may not agree but enjoy the conversation. Since I am so new to writing, I am looking forward to seeing how my style evolves and since your post, really looking at who may be reading and commenting. Thank you so much for your insight.

        Liked by 1 person

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