Do You Love Your Reader?
– Article by Phyliss Merion Shanken, a Lover of Writing and Psychology –
Writing and Love making have much in common. Through your imagination, you, Writer, caress your precious Reader and you are undoubtedly aroused in return.
Of course, as with all kinds of love, there is risk. Suppose you sprout your words, and silence is your only answer. Maybe your thoughts alienate or confuse Reader who capriciously abandons you. After all your efforts, Reader’s lack of appreciation slaps you in the face. Without giving you a second chance, Reader decides never to rendezvous with you again.
Sometimes you become fascinated with the sound of your own words. The message to Reader is, “Look at me, the Writer! Who cares about you, Reader.” Essentially you are making love only to yourself.
On the other hand, when you cherish Reader, your words beckon: “Come, my loved one, come to me!” You invite Reader to join you on the page. You pledge to bring Reader and you together, not just on your terms, but some place in the middle where you both merge as one.”
If you do your job, Reader says, “I met someone, named Writer, who feels the way I do. I didn’t even know I experienced life like this until Writer found a new way to tell a familiar story. To expend all that energy, Writer must love me very much.”
What if you do not take good care of your precious Reader? Suppose your grammar is off. Reader asks, “Why do you mistreat me?”
In response, you pace the floor and exert your creative vigor, dedicated to fixing your manuscript. There’s something wrong with it. It doesn’t fully convey what you intended. If you relinquish your promise to connect with Reader and leave your story unattended, you may end up in a lover’s quarrel. Maybe the only way Reader can understand the tale is for you to change from third person to first person. Oh no! Now you have to rework the whole project. You’re not in the mood. You could say, “No, dear, not tonight. I have a headache.” As other problems present themselves, you always have the option of forsaking Reader and placing your lover in a quandary, but when you love Reader, you tolerate the anxiety and work even harder to consummate the relationship.
You change one word, or add a sentence. You say, “Reader, I do it for you.” As something inside of you begins to flutter, the small change toward Reader and away from yourself, transforms your work into a masterpiece. Because you were willing to embark on an adventure designed to give Reader pleasure, with one word stroke, you changed a written sketch into an exquisite portrait. Out of your caring for Reader, you rearranged the elements into a new shape. Together, you and Reader have created magic. You have completed your work and you say, “Ah.” Miles away, never to be heard by you, but felt by you nevertheless, Reader croons, “Ah.”
The love affair is complete.
It’s a funny thing how love happens. With all its risks, if you adore your Reader, your story is almost guaranteed to be as perfect as the sweet, tender, baby you produce, an outcome that occurs only when true love exists.
About the Author – Phyliss Merion Shanken
Phyliss Merion Shanken is a retired psychologist and creative writing teacher who has been published in psychological journals as well as in literary publications, and weekly newspaper and magazine columns. In addition to her literary and poetry awards, she is author of SILHOUETTES OF WOMAN, PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH and The Joys and Frustrations of Parenting, as well as a number of screenplays. She has two novels, EYE OF IRENE, and THE HEART OF BOYNTON BEACH CLUB. CONVERSATIONS WITH PERFECT STRANGERS: Memoirs of a Psychologist is the culmination of her life’s work. Presently, she is completing a collection entitled, Wise Old Owls: Gray Matters, which depicts issues of older adults as they look back: their joys, frustrations, losses, regrets, fears, hopes, and above all, their wisdom.
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