One of the first books I read that I can remember truly enjoying and losing myself within the story was Piers Anthony’s second Xanth book, A Spell for Chameleon. I immersed myself in this story when I was staying at my great-aunt’s house for the summer and I didn’t have much else to do. It was quiet there, being mostly in the middle of the woods, and it was easy to become addicted to reading with the right story. Ever since then, I’ve always wanted to find more to read.
In a lot of ways, this is how my own writer’s identity came about, too. I enjoy stories, and I enjoy telling them, but I don’t want to tell a story for myself. As a writer, I think my thoughts tend more towards those of a reader a lot of the time. I enjoy writing immensely, but my main goal when I write is to make sure that others enjoy my stories, too. I don’t write for myself, but for my readers. I hope that they can become as immersed in my stories as I did when I started with A Spell for Chameleon, and as I continue to do nearly every day when I begin, or continue, reading something new.
First and foremost, I think I’ll always be a reader, which is similar in a lot of ways to a writer, but different, too. While I’m also a reader, I know I’m not the only reader, and I want to try and cater to the needs of readers as a whole.
Because of this, I also feel like my readers are a large part of my personal identity as a writer, too. My writing isn’t just about me, it’s about everyone who reads it, and as soon as I offer it up, it isn’t just mine anymore, it’s yours, too. I may have created the story, but now the story lives inside you, and someone else, and more and more, until it gains a life of its own in a lot of ways. I’m always in awe a little bit over how powerful a story can become and how everyone can find something different and new while reading the same thing. It’s a really exciting thought to me.
I love coming of age and new adult themes, as well, because I think it’s something everyone can relate to in some way. Everyone is different, too, but at some point in our lives we all have to grow up. Growing up isn’t so bad, though. If you’re reading a book, sometimes you can forget you’ve grown up, at least for a little while, and immerse yourself in a story where everything seems fresh and young again. One of the wonderful things about books is that you can do this over and over again with multiple different stories. Honestly, it’s as exciting to read about as it is to write about, I think.
My characters are incredibly important to me and I love all of them, too. Maybe it’s a little strange, but I don’t consider them mine in as much as I think of them as their own people. I use a little part of me to create them, but then they become something so much greater than I could have ever imagined. Oftentimes when I read a book, and then I finish it, I feel suddenly bereft at the loss of the characters. The story is over and I’ll never see them again. When I’m writing a story and it’s coming to the end, I start to feel the same way, and eventually once I completely finish the story, it seems like a heavy and great loss to me.
One of the things I really enjoy is thinking that maybe it’s not over, though. As a writer, I can continue the story sometime. As a reader, you can continue the story, too, though. You can imagine what will happen in the future and where the character’s lives will take them. After reading a story, you very likely might be as fond of the characters as me or any other writer was when we were writing them. I created my characters, but one of my main goals is to get them as intimately known to my readers as possible, so that they almost become like a friend, or a rival, or a lover to you. I think that idea is really interesting.
That’s my writer’s identity and those are my goals moving forward. I want to write stories, yes, but I want people to enjoy them as much as possible, too. They aren’t just my stories, they’re yours, also.