I read Stephen King’s On Writing at least once a year. It reminds me that it’s okay for me to write what I want to write and how I want to write it just so long as I’m being true to myself and the work. I need that reminder every so often, particularly during the long, barren stretches when nothing is getting accepted, published, or read.
In the book, he talks about having an “ideal reader”, someone you have in mind when you write your story. It could be anybody. It can be your wife, your husband, your best friend, your cousin, the shlub down the street that throws things at the pine trees when it rains. Anybody. The person doesn’t even have to be living. Considering their current popularity, even zombies could be ideal readers nowadays.
I’ve developed an odd take on this. I don’t really have an ideal reader exactly. At least, that’s not how I look at it. To me, my stories are my love letters to certain people. There are certain people I have in mind when I write them. When I put those stories out there, traditionally or self-published or whatever, I’m hoping that those particular people read their particular stories. I want them to read them and know that I’m thinking of them.
Most of the people I’m thinking of will never read what I’ve written. Many of them don’t even know I exist. But just in case they should happen to stumble upon something I’ve done…
I’ve never been good at expressing my emotions. I’m better at it when I write them down. I’m unbeaten at it when I can express myself through fiction with the relative comfort that the love letter I’m writing won’t be interpreted as such, isn’t obvious, and likely won’t even by read by the intended.
But, like I said. If they do happen to stumble upon that story I wrote just for them, I hope they read it and I hope they know it was sealed with a kiss, just for them.
I bet you didn’t realize that horror could be so mushy in a non-entrails sort of way, huh?