Every writer, I imagine, has an ideal reader. This is someone who gets all the nuances of your story, appreciates the elegant twists and turns and knows the characters as well as you know them. But does a writer ever meet the ideal reader?
In my interactions with the world outside, I have met a variety of people. There are those who have not read a word that I have written. They are a mass of questions, asked hesitantly. How do I write? More important, how do I get published? And then, the vital question – do I make money out of my writing? These are readers who require an introduction to the world of writing and I am happy to give it to them.
There are others who, on being told that I write, immediately ask if I have read their favourite author. When I confess to not having read these books, they launch into an enthusiastic description of the book and reasons why I cannot miss reading them.
There are a few people who have read my books. They are happy to tell me how much they liked these books and how often they have read it. These are the kinds of readers any author likes to meet. It is nice to know that your books have touched lives and have found loving homes in different corners of the world.
But the ideal reader would be someone who knows my books intimately, can ask me questions about my characters and tell me in no uncertain terms where I have gone wrong. These are the people who have engaged with the book for so long and so well that it is partly their book. They speak with great vehemence against perceived wrongs, and tell me with gentle authority what I should put into my next book. They are not ideal because they have read my books or that they show a decided preference for my writing. They are ideal readers because they show me where I have gone wrong, they make me ponder their criticism and suggestions. And most important, they make me long to rush back home, to sit down and write a book that they will be certain to enjoy and remember.
Any reader who pushes you to do your best, is, in my opinion, my ideal reader. And I will remain always grateful to them.