Ignore the reader

Of course one should write for the ideal reader. Of course the reader of my nuclear history book wants a 300-page sweeping, clear, fascinating entertainment.

But I’m writing a blockbuster. It’s turning into an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, “tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” grand saga. I didn’t plan to write it this way, nor was it clear for a long time that I’d come across this fundamental issue. The story was there and I sat down and wrote it. It’s a saga, to be sure.

If I had snared an agent (well, I did, but not for long) and convinced a mainstream publisher to run with it, no doubt by now they would have carved out of me that 300-page glossy one-night read. But I didn’t. Self publishing brings with it the fear of finding no audience whatsoever, even were I to write for my one adoring reader.

No, it’s too late. To reshape and rewrite, to aim for a mythical poster book (that might in any case be ignored), would sap the project of the beauty it’s achieved in my mind.

No, sod it. I’ll write what I write. It must be shipped out into the wide world as speedily as possible, or I’ll run out of steam and abandon it as a part-finished folly. I need to have faith that by writing the story in an exciting style, by revealing the grand drama of what happened, I’ll find readers. And if I fail to find readers, at least I’ll have done my best.

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