And sure, it’s amazing that all of the feedback that I’ve gotten so far has been positive (it’s actually beyond amazing. It’s an utter indescribable relief!)
But all of those things don’t compare to a fact that I somehow forgot to prepare for. In the face of all of the technical and PR related tasks leading up to launching Hobo Stew, somehow I forgot if you publish your book and people buy it, they are going to read it. People are reading my book! My book, see how I just typed that out there without even thinking about it? Because if you’re reading Hobo Stew, it’s not my book anymore. It’s ours.
I was talking to a reader who mentioned that they wanted a sequel. I was talking to a reader who thought certain characters should have married each other (characters that I DO NOT ship! At all!). There’s even been a tad bit of fan art…and it’s not exactly how I pictured it. It’s close…but not exact. At first it felt really, really weird to hear anyone but me say the characters names, or realize that other people have opinions about the plot line, or that there are even going to be people who go rouge and ship whoever they want.
See, for over a decade, it was me. The book existed in my imagination, and my imagination only. The characters did what I wanted them to, looked like I wanted them to, thought like I wanted them to. In some ways, it was incredibly safe. Hobo Stew was my own personal little world. It wasn’t a static world; things changed drastically as I matured (eleven year old me was fairly melodramatic) and with each editing phase there was something new and something exciting added to Hobo Stew. Through it all, though, I was in control. But I was also alone. Then you were added to the mix, and something incredible happened. There are two Hobo Stews now. There is the one that exists in my imagination…and the one that exists in yours. Parallel universes. Sisters, twins even, but not exactly the same.
Somehow, despite the constrains of time and space, the written word finds a way for reader and author to share a combined experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.
That’s why my view of an author has changed. It used to be very narrow—an author writes books, publishes them, promotes them, goes on social media regularly to look at pictures of them, blah blah blah. Now I see that an author is someone who has you. Without a reader, an author is only achieving half of what is possible. Writing and creating a book is an amazing accomplishment. But it will never reach what it could become without you. By reading the book, or blog post, or email, you are providing the other half of the equation.
Together, reader and author, you and me, we make magic. Because ultimately, a story is meant to be shared.
Do you have a favorite author to share a book with? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.