Why Having Lots of Readers Matters to Me

31/07/12 6:00 AM

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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Posted by Robyn | in Creative Writing, Writing | 8 Comments »

8 Comments on “Why Having Lots of Readers Matters to Me”

  1. Martin Dugas Says:

    Great post. I share your opinion Robyn. A great story idea flashes in our mind. We decide to bring it to life by writing about it. If it only exists for us, what’s the point? I totally agree, the purpose of art is to be shared. In the case of a short story or a novel, the more readers, the better. What I like about writing is this: eventually we will pass on (sadly!), but a piece of us will stay behind to be shared with the next generations to come. Forever. For me, this is nirvana.

  2. Robyn Says:

    @Martin — totally agree! Leaving a legacy, leaving something behind that lives on after you…that’s all part of it as well. 🙂

  3. Steve Tannuzzo Says:

    Excellent, honest post. Sharing it now.

  4. Robyn Says:

    Thanks, Steve!

  5. Jack Holder Says:

    To me, writing has to be the number one goal. These words, thoughts and ideas simply refuse to be stuck in the head, they themselves deserve to be on the page/screen. And once I see my work, I want to know what people think, lots of people. I want people to say my words are great, I want them to say they suck, and I especially want to know why. It’s part ego trip, part self-discovery, and all in pursuance of something greater than words: permanence.

  6. Robyn Says:

    @Jack — you said it: “Permanence.” Thanks for commenting.

  7. Dina Santorelli Says:

    How did I miss this post? Totally agree, Robyn. The reader is an important and integral part of the process for the novelist. I tell my husband all the time, “If I didn’t care about the reader, I’d keep a diary, not write a novel.”

  8. Robyn Says:

    @Dina – Amen, sistah! 🙂