Oh, the intensity of feeling between readers and their beloved books!
I love how this quote redirects my busy, distracted writerly mind.
My ultimate goal is not to rewrite four pages a day; it isn't to finish this draft by the end of August; it isn't even to lock in my morning date with my dictionary. (Though I do keep aiming for those good things!)
Nope, my goal is to write a book that readers love. Ultimately, my goal is to love readers, to love people. And I happen to be doing that by writing the best darned novels I can manage to write.
That's the real story. The true focus.
It's good to get those priorities right again. Otherwise I feel like I'm my own personal assistant, running around with an overflowing to-do list and too many extenuating circumstances and a terrible need for an extremely long vacation. I'm worried about editing, about word choice, about finding better support systems.
Busy, rushing, fractious.
But this quote gets me thinking like a reader again.
And I remember those reading experiences where I felt pulled into a vortex of words and ideas, when I did not stop reading until the book was done. Dillard is right: I always do want fiction to blow my whole day.
Every single time.
I don't want readers to get to the last page of my novels and think, "Man, I bet this girl has her process down to a fine science. I bet she's well-rested every morning, and floats through her day like a benevolent fairy." (Sometimes I think this is the kind of writer I'm supposed to be.)
They're not going to close the book and think, "This one had a minimal to-do list. Good for her. She managed her time well."
I want them to close the book with their eyes wide. I want them so full of new ideas and character voices and settings that they can't sit still.
I want them to feel that the world is bigger, beauty is real, redemption is possible, and they are truly loved.
How I get the book done? It doesn't actually matter that much. Not really. Not in the long run.
Loving people, loving readers, writing the best darn books. That's what matters.
A book of fiction was a bomb. It was a land mine you wanted to go off. You wanted it to blow your whole day. -- Annie Dillard, from An American Childhood