A Little Light
Writers of all genres share many things: a love of language, a love of story, and early love of reading. Unfortunately, they also share a few unanswerable questions, chief among them: Will anybody actually want to read this thing? It is a strange question to ask, especially when the people asking it know that the answer is, of course, yes. Yes, yes, yes, someone will want to actually read this thing. And yet that question is so seductively askable. It is seductive because every story is a choice. Using the light beam of her attention the writer illuminates a portion of the truth that is the whole of life. The writer must choose what part will be illuminated because she cannot illuminate all of it – not even the sun can brighten both halves of the earth.
The writer’s only job is to illuminate what she most wants to see. The writer brings all her skill, all her wisdom, all her patience, and works until the spotlight is bright and clear. Now anyone interested in that portion of the whole may see it too. The brighter it is, the clearer it is, the easier for those so wishing to can see it.
There will always be those, however, who are not interested in what the writer has illuminated. Perhaps they have seen it already; or perhaps it is too far from where their own attention is currently directed. The reasons are irrelevant. These others can find it when they want, if they want.
The writer may know all this, but in choosing to direct her attention, in choosing what her story is, she will likely also be aware of what her story is not, that portion of the truth her light cannot illuminate. And it is true – anyone craving to know what lies within the shadows beyond her spotlight’s radius will be disappointed. And it also true that truth lies out there as well, out there beyond what her story reveals.
This is why we ask, Will anybody actually want to read this? We are speaking, in our own way, for the readers this story wasn’t meant to reach. This is thoughtful, but unnecessary. Turn your beam back where it belongs and brighten what you can: somewhere someone is in darkness looking for your light.
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