A Story Arrives

You cannot pick your audience; your audience must pick you. You can pick your characters and your story, you can pick your scenes and your sentences – but you cannot pick your audience. You can say you are writing for young women, or science fiction freaks, or mystery buffs, but you cannot pick which young women, freaks, or buffs—they will pick you. Your audience will find you the way you found your story. You found your story because at first you knew only that you wanted a story to tell, the same as your audience wanted a story to read. There were an infinite number of stories you could have told. They drifted to you in glimpses and pieces – titles, protagonists, settings – seeking purchase in your imagination. Most drifted away unnoticed. Some you reached for, testing them idly in the car or shower. But you released them as well because they were the wrong story.

You wanted a story that met you where you were and pulled you forward. You wanted a story that summoned questions from you faster than you could answer them. You wanted a story that felt as if it needed to be told. You wanted a story that could keep you at your desk, keep you up at night, keep you interested from sentence to sentence to sentence.

How glad I am when I find the right story, how relieved. It’s like meeting a friend in a roomful of strangers. I can begin to feel like a stranger to myself as I wait for my story to come. How easy to name that space I have cleared for my story failure, the waiting laziness, the unwanted stories enemies. Yet the friend arrives just the same once I grow tired of all this naming, arrives with a name of its own, and I choose it even as it chooses me.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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