I can’t let go of my first (finished) novel. I guess I should say “draft of my first (finished) novel” but I don’t want the signifier to be even clunkier than the signified. I stuck a fork in it two weeks ago and ever since then I’ve been worrying about the revision process, which has tentatively been set to begin a month from today. My manuscript is not in my usual genre and even though I thought it began with a good premise, I worry that it won’t be half as awesome as I want it to be.
When told about my anxiousness, my writing buddy today suggested that I should find my “ideal reader.” This mystical being, she said, is a personified version of the audience for the book. They are the reader for whom my book is written. Who is buying my book right now in some mystical part of my subconscious? The answer, of course, is I.R.
I cloak this “ideal reader” in mystery because I haven’t found my ideal reader. My writing buddy is lucky; her ideal reader actually exists and provides manuscript critique upon request. Mine is floating out there somewhere. I.R. is my Great White Buffalo.
More than a critique partner, the ideal reader’s job is to be the voice that says whether a piece of writing works. I.R., from what I can tell, is sortof like you, the author, if you were the reader instead of the inventor of the story. I.R. cuts through the anxiety and gets to the heart of the matter: is it good? I really hope my I.R. unicorn says yes.
A question for you: Is your ideal reader a real person? Or are they (like mine) invisible?