I have a strange confession for you all: It freaks me out when strangers read my work.
I’m not talking about how I’m surprised that any of you read my blog. I mean, I am still surprised by that, but we talk on Twitter, we comment on each other’s blogs, we Google Friend Connect each other, and I feel a sense of connection to most of you.
No, I’m talking about real strangers. People I know nothing about. Questions like “How did they find me?” enter my thoughts, making me sound a tad paranoid.
When I’m published, I’ll have lots of strangers reading my work (assuming I’m successful at all). Heck, I’ll need strangers to do so if I want to sell loads of books. Published authors talk about how it’s odd when they see a stranger reading their book in the wild, so I don’t think I’m completely crazy to feel this way. *smile*
Two recent events triggered this thought. One, my posts analyzing the plot and characters of the Green Lantern movie went viral this week among the comic book crowd. I had as much traffic yesterday as I usually do over a full week.
At first I considered it an interesting quirk to my site statistics, but then it dawned on me that those visitors had no idea who I was. How bizarre of an impression would someone have of me if they read only those posts? Concerned, I double checked that those posts didn’t out me as a serial killer or anything. (Rational, my brain is not. *shrug*)
The second event prompting this worry happened when a good online friend volunteered to beta read my latest work-in-progress (WIP) once it’s complete. Great! Except this beta reader is male, and my latest WIP is paranormal romance rather than urban fantasy. In other words, it’s a kissing book. *snicker* When I remembered some of the more, um, explicit scenes in the story, I wondered if I would die of embarrassment if he read them.
Many romance authors struggle with this “what will my mother think?” issue. Forget that. I’m more likely to worry about “what will my dad think?” when it comes to my romance-heavy stories. He reads thrillers and history books, and has no basis for what’s normal in romances.
Writers have an interesting dilemma. We get so comfortable in our secure world of online friends and fellow writers that we almost imagine them in front of us as we tell our stories in our blog posts and books. That technique can help us find our genuine voice, the one we use in real life as we talk to our friends.
But that mode can also throw us for a loop when strangers read our work. If we have a preconceived idea of who our readers are, when someone outside our target audience finds us, we wonder if our message will still resonate with them. We might even worry that we were too comfortable in sharing information.
So we walk a tightrope. We can’t think about those non-target-market readers while we’re writing. If we do, we risk strangling our voice. Yet to break out, our work must have the potential to appeal beyond our intended readers. How do we balance that?
All I know is, no matter what, I cannot think of my dad while I’m writing.
How do you react when strangers read your work (blog posts/books/whatever)? Do you imagine yourself telling a story to someone while you write? Do you ever worry what your readers will think about you because of your work? Have you ever had problems with your voice because of that concern? What unusual readers have you had that surprised you?Pin It