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Why Having Lots of Readers Matters to Me

I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a long time. I’m not sure how else to say it, so I’m just going to say it: I want readers. Lots of readers. I’m not afraid to admit this, but a fair question that people ask me — fellow artists in particular — is why. Why am I so hell bent on getting readers…why is it so important that I’m read?

Here’s my attempt to answer those questions, and I doubt any of what I’m about to write is an original thought. But it is how I feel.

For me, art is not complete until it’s shared. I write the novel. The novel is approaching art, but it’s not a complete piece of art — in my mind — until people read it. Why? Because the readers finish what I’ve started. They take the work to the next level: they interact with it, think about it, laugh at it, cry at it, hate it or love it, they (almost) complete it. I say “almost,” because I also believe a piece of artwork is never truly complete — never truly done — since there will always be (in theory) a new person to come along and interact with the artwork (a novel, in this case) in a fresh, new way. The art will never be 100 percent complete. But with each reader, with each new experience and insight, we get closer to achieving the 100 percent.

So having readers — lots and lots of readers — is important to me. The fact that lots of readers means more money is certainly a benefit, but I can honestly say this: if someone gave me a million dollars and said “live off of this and go write, but you can’t ever share your writing with other people,” I’d say no. It’s not about the money. It’s about creating art. To create art — in this case, a novel — you need a writer (me). But you also need readers. If there’s only me producing novels but no readers, it’s incomplete artwork. And that’s extremely unsatisfying to me.

I’m at my happiest when I’m writing. I can honestly say that. But when I’ve sent my novels out into the world and they’ve landed in the hands of readers who talk about them and think about them and share them with others? That’s the definition of nirvana.

I know not all writers (or artists) feel this way. And I respect that. Open to hearing other thoughts — agreement or disagreement — in the comments.

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