The winner of my Ideal Reader Award is Marylin Warner. What does that mean? If you’re a writer, you write with that one person in mind who you are trying to communicate with. As Pico Iyer said, “Writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.”I found Marylin Warner — or, to be more accurate, she found me via this blog.
We all pay homage to writers, but I want to pay homage to readers. Writers need readers–smart, perceptive, voracious, curious, inquisitive, patient readers. I tip my hat.
Diana: So, Marylin, tell us about yourself.
Marylin: I grew up in Fort Scott, Kansas, in the southeast corner of the state. The terrain is a swath of the Ozarks, which is amazingly beautiful in the fall and spring. Fort Scott is just a few miles from the Missouri border, a true pre-Civil War town that has restored the entire original fort. After my father died, my brother and I sold the family home and moved our mother into a nice assisted care facility (hers is full care), and this is where I drive to visit her each month.
Diana: Yes, your powerful blog deals with visiting your mother and things you want to tell her. Readers can find it here. Tell us about your reading history, please.
Marylin: I’ve always loved reading. When I was eight I begged my mother to get us a World Book Encyclopedia set, and to show how much I valued the purchase, one summer I chose at random a topic from one of the volumes and either wrote or delivered orally a report on the topic. I did this EVERY day that summer. For myself, my favorite mystery series was TRIXIE BELDEN. With my own money I bought the entire series because the local library didn’t carry it (they thought the Nancy Drew books were enough).
In college I was an English/speech/education major who was embarrassed to learn I’d never heard of or read anything by John Steinbeck, possibly because the school had chosen to follow the ban against him. During my freshman year I was taking a full class load in college, but I also privately read all of Steinbeck’s books, which formed the base of my appreciation for American writers. Because of the demands of college and graduate school, my reading base is strong, though I like reading best when I choose the books instead of having them assigned.
Lately I’ve been drawn to books by Dublin writer Tana French (especially FAITHFUL PLACE) and London writer Erin Kelly (especially THE POISON TREE). The nonfiction writers I return to again and again are Anne LaMott and Kate Braestrup (especially HERE IF YOU NEED ME), and many of the books by fiction writers Dennis Lehane and Stewart O’Nan.
Diana: Thank you, Marylin. To toot her horn, she is the winner of the Writers Studio Literary Contest this year. (It’s open only to Colorado residents but details are here.) She has also won a Highlights Magazine writing contest which she entered on a dare.
When I write, I often feel isolated and silly, like I’m painting on a cave walls that are about to get washed out in the rain. It’s wonderful to know that there are people out there, somewhere, willing to read our work.
Who is your ideal reader? We have to live our lives and write our stories…but it’s nice to know there are people cheering us on.
I got the idea of thinking about my ideal reader from Duolit’s social media course, “How to Be an Indie Author Rockstar.” Toni and Shannon have wonderful suggestions and their website is worth a visit here.