“An unread story is not a story, it’s little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it makes it live, a live thing, a story.” Ursula K Le Guin
We writers need readers, as fish need water. Without our readers, there is no story, and no use for the storytellers. We are the weavers of dreams, conjuring up reality out of thin air, for their amusement and pleasure.
But before we were writers, we were readers. Who knows the pleasures of the written word better than a writer? Most writers have long been enamoured of books. There is an old saying “a word is dead until its said”’ This applies even more so to our writing, completing a piece of writing is only half its story.
We need the reader to breathe life into those pages, with their own imagination. A hundred people can read a book, and all have their own impressions of it. Books are not static things, they are where readers and writers combine in imagination and interpretation.
Your favourite fictional character may differ markedly from how someone else imagines them. And they may not be how the author imagined them, either. It does not matter, we each project our own experiences into the fictional world and create a story that is uniquely ours.
In this, books differ from a film, or TV, where every scene is shown to us. Watching them, we are more passive consumers. We allow the story to play out in front of us. It can also be why a film of a book can be disappointing, the director’s interpretation does not gel with what you, as a reader has imagined,
We may be quietly reading a book or a story, but we are active consumers, engaging with those words to create another reality. We have devoted our time to something that in one sense is not there, but in another lives vividly on the page.
Words have power, to heal, to hurt, to challenge, to change. While if never read, then the words have no power at all.
As a writer I want to say’ Thank you’ to the readers, those passionate enough about books to choose to buy books, to talk about books and to read books. I say thank you to all those authors whose words have delighted me and continue to do so. You have entertained .me, scared me or enthralled me. I say a huge thank you to librarians for fostering a love of reading, organising author talks and helping to keep the book alive.
It was George R.R. Martin who said, ‘a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” I find this slightly ironic as most readers are women, but I can’t fault the sentiment. An escape into a different world, or a different place or time is as near as your next book.