On Being Read

Mike DeLuca, my colleague in both writing and drinking fine beers, wrote a neat blog post last week about the feeling of having your work enjoyed by people you’ve never met. Every writer has friends and family who love their stuff, but there’s something both neat and odd about getting that from people you’ve never met.

I just had my first experience with this. My literary story “A Brief Swell of Twilight” won the 2006 Fiction Award from the Briar Cliff Review. Last week I got a nice e-mail from a freshman at Briar Cliff University who’s taking a lit class taught by one of the faculty advisors for the magazine. They were assigned to write a character analysis paper, and one of their choices was the protagonist in my story. This student said he wasn’t allowed to ask for any extra information about the character; he just wanted to tell me that he enjoyed the story.

Which was all very cool, but still made me feel odd. All my characters are based on myself, in different ways and varying amounts, but this particular character was close to home in a few. And, of course, completely fictional in others.

I’m very glad this student enjoyed that synthesis of me and very much not-me, combined in an interesting story. It does seem especially cool that it resonated with him even though he has no idea who I am. Which I think is the ultimate goal for all of us striving to be read–it must resonate with as many people as possible.

And it was a bit more interesting a comment than the extended family readers who read the rescue climax of that story and asked, “Did that really happen to Scott?” :)

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2 Responses to “On Being Read”

  1. mjd Says:

    You got studied by a college lit class! That is great. And very much the kind of weird I was talking about in that other post. You write stuff that has your individual identity right in with it, and at some point somebody decides these things that were unique to you are now capable and worthy of influencing other people’s lives.

  2. Scott H. Andrews Says:

    True, although by a freshman intro class, which was surely teaching more about how to write character studies than about the particular characters they were studying. But yes, it’s wonderful that folks think there is worthy stuff in there or are finding worthy stuff in it.